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Et drap på en 23 år gammel fransk jøde av en gjeng som kaller seg Barbarene, ryster det jødiske samfunn i Frankrike. Ilan Halimi ble holdt innesperret og torturert på det groveste i tre uker, mye tyder på at at var fordi han var jøde.

The kidnappers, who called themselves «The Barbarians,» beat, burned and mutilated Halimi during 24 days of captivity in the cellar of a tough housing project in Bagneux, southwest of the capital, according to investigators.

The gang taunted Halimi’s family and a rabbi with anti-Semitic epithets and recited Koranic verses during telephone calls and e-mails demanding wildly diverging amounts of ransom that never were collected, investigators said. The kidnappers also sent photos of the victim with a gun to his head, bound and blindfolded, apparently mimicking images of hostages and abused prisoners in Iraq.

Those actions and others led prosecutors to add aggravating circumstances of anti-Semitism to the charges sought against some of the suspects.

«When the family said they didn’t have money, they told them to go to a synagogue to get the money,» said Sammy Ghozlan, a Jewish leader who is a retired police chief and has campaigned against anti-Semitic crime here in recent years. «This gang massacred this young man. They cut off ears and fingers. It was like they had a trophy, a Jewish kid, and everybody abused him.»

According to Monday’s edition of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Halimi’s mother criticized the police for moving too slowly and for ignoring the anti-Semitic motives.

«If Ilan hadn’t been Jewish, he wouldn’t have been murdered,» Ruth Halimi told Haaretz.

On Feb. 13, he was dumped near railroad tracks, naked, bound and with 80% of his body burned and bruised, but still alive. He died of his wounds in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The gang first demanded half a million dollars ransom, but kept changing demands, and ended up asking for $6,000, officials said. The captors’ perceived lack of effort to collect the money suggests to some investigators that the gang was taunting the family, officials said.

The apparently mixed motives of the kidnappers are symptomatic of the violent mentality of high-crime housing projects, where riots have left a smoldering, semi-politicized rage that at its worst is sweepingly anti-Western and hostile to Jews, Americans and the French state, observers said.

But police have found no ties between the suspects and the Islamic extremist networks active in France, authorities said.

Sju er arrestert: fem menn og to kvinner. Bandelederen er på rømmen, og noen tror han har flyktet til hjemlandet, Elfenbenkysten.

Anti-Semitism Is Alleged in French Torture-Killing