Meet the Merah-Essids: France’s First Family of Jihad

Posted by John Rosenthal

“Oh, you Jews! Allah has permitted us to kill your brothers on French soil and here on the soil of the Islamic State.” So says the speaker in an Islamic State video released in March, which allegedly shows a Palestinian Mossad agent being shot dead by a child executioner. Standing next to the boy and behind the kneeling detainee, the man, whose face is uncovered, speaks French with the cadence of the banlieues, France’s troubled urban slums that have proved fertile recruiting grounds for the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. He has been identified as none other than Sabri Essid, the self-described “half-brother” of the infamous Jewish school killer, Mohammed Merah.

In fact, Essid is Merah’s stepbrother. In the summer of 2011, Essid’s father, Mohamed, married Merah’s mother, Zoulikha, in a religious ceremony. As far as Islamic law is concerned, Merah thus became Mohamed Essid’s stepson. The boy in the video, incidentally, is Sabri’s own stepson, Rayan. Several other members of the extended Merah-Essid clan are likewise known to have left France to join the “lands of jihad” in Syria, including Mohammed’s elder sister Souad.

See my portrait of France’s “first family of jihad” in the June 29 issue of The Weekly Standard, now available online here.

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