Prosecutors in Belgium and France are confident they have found the man behind a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Belgium. The suspect detained was carrying weapons, an ISIL flag, and a video ‘claiming responsibility.’
Public prosecutors in Belgium and Paris held near-simultaneous press conferences on Sunday, sharing preliminary information about the 29-year-old man arrested on Friday in Marseilles.
Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw (pictured) said that when arrested, the suspect, Mehdi Nemmouche, was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, wrapped in a flag for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and a revolver in his jacket.
Van Leeuw also said that Nemmouche was “in possession of a recording where he states that he committed the attack in Brussels against the Jews.”
French prosecutor Francois Molins said that the video was filmed after the attacks; it showed the weapons used and featured a man’s voice, believed to be Nemmouche’s. Molins said that besides the video footage, where the suspect cannot be seen, there was a “strong body of evidence” tying him to the killings.
Syria stay, ISIL flag
Molins also said Nemmouche was thought to have spent “more than a year” in Syria.
“During his last stay in jail he was noticed for extremist [Islamic] proselytism,” Molins said. “On December 31, 2012, three weeks after he was freed, he travelled to Syria.”
The suspect, known to the French authorities but not the Belgians prior to his arrest, is believed to have joined Jihadist groups fighting in Syria – with ISIL among their ranks. Since his detention, Molins said, Nemmouche has not said actually anything to investigators.
In Brussels, Van Leeuw expressed “hearty thanks to the French judicial authorities and the police services” for their cooperation in the investigation. Customs officials arrested the man in Marseille on Friday, May 29, when he arrived on a bus coming from Brussels. Belgian authorities had confirmed that he departed from the capital that day, Van Leeuw said.
Last week’s shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels killed three people – an Israeli couple and a French woman – also leaving a 24-year-old Belgian man clinically brain-dead.
Nemmouche is being held on charges of murder, attempted murder and possession of weapons, all of which in the framework of terrorist activity, according to French prosecutor Molins.
msh/pfd (AFP, Reuters)