Mystery of ‘00101’ phone calls
James McClaren lives with his parter at No 4 rue Serjent Vigné. Mohammed Merah lived at No 17, about 100 to 150 metres away. The street is mainly villas and higher end small apartment blocks, typically with underground garaging. It’s not the Boule St Miche, but it’s not the archetypal banlieue either….you know, the ones that contain people Sarkozy called ‘scum’ a few years back.
At 5am on the day before Merah’s summary execution, James was awoken by the landline telephone ringing. Fearful of some bad news, he picked it up. There was no answer, but the displayed number was 00101. 001 is the Paris code in France. ’01’ is not, of course, a normal number: in the same way that very few planes have the call-sign ‘Air Force 1’. A few minutes later, the phone rang again. Same silence, same number.
Seven minutes later, the shots began. A fusillade, then single shots, then another fusillade. At 5.30 am, a telephone call from the CRS warned James and his partner Maryse to stay indoors. At 5.32 am, a final fusillade. And then a deathly hush.
For the rest of that day, movements in the street were heavily restricted. James continues the story:
“That night there were a series of much, much louder explosions which shook the windows. These carried on until about 6am and then stopped. There were then two or three muffled shots, and then nothing. During the morning the TV stations reported that he had surrendered, then was dead, and then started admitting not even the Police knew if he was still alive”
By now, President Sarkozy was on his way down to Montauban in the South West for services to bury the three dead soldiers from the previous week. The homage was to take place on live TV in Montauban. Claude Guent, the French Interior Minister, was in charge of events. (In case Sloggers don’t realise it, this was the post – a security orientated position – Sarkozy occupied before becoming President).
The people at Montauban were on the parade ground, expecting Nicolas Sarkozy to address them at 10.30. They waited in the freezing cold. And waited, and waited.
At 11.35 in the Rue Serjent Vigné, there was what McClaren describes as “an enormous and sustained fusillade lasting two to three minutes, followed after some minutes by three muffled shots. Then more sustained gunfire.” By now, Mohammed Merah lay beneath the balcony of his flat, dead.
Shortly afterwards, Claude Ghent announced Merah’s death. And within a very short time, Nicolas Sarkozy made a dramatic, live TV broadcast from the homage ceremony. Not a single person in France believes that this was anything other than an enormous boost for the President’s chances of re-election.
There is no real conspiracy theory here – just a sociopathic politician going about his daily job of being an amoral opportunist. If James McClaren’s testimony is to be believed, it seems highly likely that the CRS delayed its action against Merah in order to amplify the dramatic effect of President Sarkozy’s live address to the Nation. But McClaren himself offers a more damning indictment:
“What Assault Group goes in during daylight hours to extract a holed up gunman when he has no hostage, and has already been softened up by a night of disorientation? There was no risk to security, and another 12-15 hours of sound disorientation would have made a softer target.”
The obvious imputation is that the coup de grace was timed and staged to provide the maximum positive electoral effect for the Sarkozy campaign. And by taking place in daylight hours, it endangered the lives of the CRS team unnecessarily.
Police said that 300 rounds were fired. An autopsy showed that Merah died from sniper shots, and had a total of 20 bullet wounds on his body, mainly on his arms and legs.But here’s an intriguing final comment from Slogger James:
“I have now inspected the famous balcony from which he jumped. I found only about 10 bullet-pock marks in the building wall and three or four in cars parked in front. That is to say, lower in height than the balcony.”
If he already had bullet-riddled arms and legs, how did Mohammed Merah jump off that balcony? Based on these accounts, the only answer can be that he was hit 20 times on the way down. That is one hell of an achievement in sharp-shooting.
Thanks go to James McClaren for giving exclusivity to this site. Should any of us be surprised by these conclusions? Not really: they’re little more than a confirmation of what most people would expect.
Self-appointed cynics often ask me rhetorically, “But what do you expect?” To which I always reply, “Something better”.