Thursday, September 6, 2012

Assassination in the Alps?

I caught a very brief news report yesterday about a family murdered in the French Alps. More details today from the Daily Mail:
Pictured looking relaxed and smiling in a restaurant, this is the British father in the French Alps massacre who it emerged today was known to the intelligence services.

Engineer Saad Al-Hilli, 50, was born in Iraq and was put under Special Branch surveillance during the second Gulf War. He was ambushed with his family on Wednesday during a family caravanning trip.

In 30 seconds of automatic pistol gunfire, Mr Al-Hilli, his dentist wife Ikbal and her mother were assassinated with single shots to the forehead. The couple's seven-year-old daughter Zainab was shot, pistolwhipped and left for dead.

Her little sister Zeena, four, was unharmed and hid under her dead mother's legs for eight terrifying hours before police finally discovered her.

A French cyclist, father-of-three Sylvain Mollier, who is believed to have witnessed the bloodbath, was also shot dead. With both children under armed guard in hospital, pictures of the extraordinary scene in the forest near Lake Annecy emerged showing the bullet-riddled BMW estate car.
From another story, also with the Daily Mail:
Three adult members of a seemingly respectable family, each murdered with a single shot in the head.

A seven-year-old girl left with life-threatening injuries and her younger sister badly traumatised after somehow escaping alive from a psychopathic killer.

A cyclist who is believed to have witnessed the bloodbath mercilessly assassinated.

Such barbarity would be shocking in some of the world’s most lawless countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia...

But for it to happen in a car park near the tranquil shores of Lake Annecy in the French Alps makes the crime infinitely more difficult to comprehend.

And, crucially, much more difficult to solve.

What better location for a professional hit than in a remote area, with few if any witnesses likely to see the atrocity, with quick road access to airports in three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland, and even further afield.

As French police launched an extensive manhunt to find the killer or killers, investigators were officially keeping an open mind about the motive for the crime and who might have been behind it.

The ruthless efficiency with which the murders were carried out suggested strongly that Saad Al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and the rest of his family were specific targets, and the cyclist killed because he saw too much.

Pictures of the murder scene – in an isolated forest car park, 2.5 miles from the nearest village – show how the BMW was hit with automatic fire before the victims were finished off at point-blank range.
The stories report that Al-Hilli was an engineer who had been involved in the defense and aerospace industry. He had been under surveillance by British intelligence at one time. There is also some speculation that this the killing may have been motivated by financial or inheritance disputes.

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