Toulouse killer visited Israel, other countries in the region

The passport of Toulouse killer Mohammed Merah showed that he visited Israel, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, a French newspaper reported.

Police found Merah’s passport in his apartment following the raid Thursday that led to his death, LeMonde reported. It is believed that he tried to visit the West Bank.

Merah jumped to his death from his apartment window during a police raid on his Toulouse home. He was also shot in his head by police as he jumped firing at the officers.

A man riding a motorbike opened fire Monday outside the Ozar Hatorah school where students were waiting to enter the building at the start of the school day. During the more than 30-hour standoff in his apartment with police, Merah said he was the attacker, according to French officials.

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and his two young sons, as well as the 7-year-old daughter of the school’s principal, were killed in the attack. They were buried Wednesday in Jerusalem.

Merah told French police he killed the Jewish students at the Ozar Hatorah school Monday in revenge for Palestinian children killed in Gaza, and had killed three French soldiers for serving in Afghanistan. Police found videos he took of the killings with a camera hung around his neck, according to reports.

Merah, a French national of Algerian origin, had claimed ties to al-Qaida in France and reportedly had been known to French intelligence for many years.

Also Thursday, an extremist group known as the Soldiers of Caliphate claimed responsibility for the shootings in France, calling it a response to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, according to Haaretz.

“The jihadists everywhere are keen to avenge every drop of blood unfairly shed in Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere in Muslim countries,” said the group in a statement posted on an extremist website, according to the newspaper.

Doc Links Teacher to Mysterious Death

Czech officials plan to shelve an investigation into the mysterious death of a top American Jewish official nearly 40 years ago, despite suspicions that he may have been murdered.

The Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes is considering dropping the case of Charles Jordan for lack of evidence — even though officials say they are now "investigating the suspicion of the crime of murder."

The move comes as a team of Czech investigative journalists claims to have uncovered fresh evidence since they made a television documentary about Jordan’s death last year.

The body of Jordan, vice president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), was found floating in the Vltava River close to the Charles Bridge on Aug. 20, 1967, four days after he disappeared from the Esplanade Hotel in central Prague.

Jordan apparently had told his wife he was going to buy a pack of cigarettes, but no one saw him leave the hotel.

Investigators decided to focus on the murder theory last October, three weeks after the documentary presented new leads.

They concluded that it’s unlikely that Jordan — who had a fear of water and was unable to swim — chose to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Vltava. It was "highly improbable" that Jordan’s drowning was the result of an accident, they said.

The documentary, "Father of the Refugees," claimed that the Czech secret service was heavily involved in Jordan’s death, which came two months after Israel’s stunning victory over several Arab armies in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Jordan, an expert on refugees, allegedly was trying to make secret deals with Arab and Communist regimes, buying freedom for Jews who lived there.

The documentary suggests that Jordan may have made enemies because of a groundbreaking plan to rehabilitate Palestinian refugees, which he was due to present at the United Nations a week after his death.

The documentary makers have presented new evidence to the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes suggesting a strong Arab link to Jordan’s death.

Martin Smok, co-author of "Father of the Refugees," said the evidence emerged when a new witness came forward after the documentary.

According to Smok, the new witness said that his former schoolteacher, Marie Podloucka, with whom he had a "strong relationship," had told him repeatedly that on the night of Jordan’s disappearance she allowed some Arab "commandos" to access the Esplanade Hotel via her apartment, which was next door.

She also allegedly claimed to have helped drag Jordan’s unconscious body out of her flat.

Smok said the witness also claimed Podloucka told him she had hidden "the Arab students who participated in the murder at her country house," and that "the Egyptian embassy had something to do with the whole action."

Smok said a subsequent review of the criminal investigation file from 1967 showed a reference to a disturbance involving some Arabs at Podloucka’s home, which was described as having "direct access to the Esplanade Hotel."

Smok said investigators apparently showed no interest in following up the lead, instead threatening him for not revealing his source’s name.

"I am being punished for sharing information with them, which if they were willing to perform any work on it could lead to the names of Jordan’s murderers within a couple of weeks," Smok said.

But Jan Srb, a spokesman for the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes, or UDV, said the case would be shelved for lack of evidence.

"The case should have been shelved last year," Srb said. "On orders of the state prosecutor, the UDV examined some information from the film. It didn’t bring anything new."

The JDC’s country director for the Czech Republic, Yechiel Bar-Chaim, said in a statement that the committee "is keenly interested in seeing all new leads in this case vigorously pursued. We believe that the current status of this investigation for the murder of one of our top officials continues to be worthy of public interest."

But documentary director Petr Bok said he was not surprised by Czech authorities’ apparent lack of enthusiasm to continue investigating Jordan’s death.

"This case is perhaps a Pandora’s box involving secret-service games and the Middle East. It’s still a hot topic today," he said.

"Father of the Refugees" screens May 5, 7:30 p.m. at the University of Judaism’s Gindi Auditorium, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. To R.S.V.P., call (310) 440-1222.