Internet a Blind Spot for French Counterterrorism

Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old who killed seven people in southwestern France over the past two weeks, was shot dead Thursday at his Toulouse apartment after a 30-hour standoff with police.

The French national of Algerian descent, who said the killings of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French paratroopers over the past two weeks were to avenge the killings of Palestinian children in Gaza, was a self-proclaimed jihadist who had visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area twice over the past two years.

He represents the growing threat of homegrown extremists who identify with al-Qaida but operate on their own. And as France now grapples with its deadliest terrorist attack since 1995, questions have arisen about how Merah, who had been on law enforcement's radar prior to the shootings, was able to launch three separate deadly attacks.

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