French authorities still had Mohammed Merah, 23, under siege at his apartment in Toulouse late Wednesday night. He allegedly killed seven people, including a Rabbi, three Jewish children and three French soldiers, in the name of jihad.
Merah told news channel France 24 that he was fighting against France's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, France's niqab (Muslim veil that covers everything but the eyes) ban, and for the "deaths of Palestinian children," The Guardian reported.
Born and raised in Toulouse, Merah was arrested over 10 times for petty crimes and travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan three times since 2007, according to The Washington Post. Upon his return from these trips, the Interior Ministry's Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence put him under surveillance.
"His mother said she did not wish to speak to him because she did not believe she could convince him and he would be deaf to her appeals," The Irish Times reported French interior minister Claude Guéant said.
"I never had the impression that he was an individual radically different from the one I knew in the beginning," CNN reported Merah's former lawyer Christian Etelin said. "I always knew him as being someone very flexible in his behavior, courteous, polite, soft and certainly not rigid to the point of being led by a certain fanaticism."
What made Merah change? The answer to come when French authorities finally capture him, which they hope will be alive.