Jewish Museum attack classified as terrorism

Summary

The federal prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation into the shooting death of three people at Belgium’s Jewish Museum at the weekend

Museum remains closed

The Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, the scene of a murderous attack at the weekend in which three people died, planned to open today but will now remain closed until further notice to allow the investigation of material evidence.

The federal prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation, and the incident has been re-classified as a terrorist attack. The move allows the prosecutor to bring in an additional magistrate specialised in terrorism. The move to the federal prosecutor’s office also frees up additional resources and eases the way for international contacts.

“From analysis of the camera footage, it appears we are dealing with a very cold-blooded, single-minded and determined killer,” a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor said. “That, added to the fact that the victims were shot in the Jewish Museum, led to the determination that the killer was driven by terrorist motives.”

Security footage of the man (pictured) released to the public has already given rise to a number of tips from the public. Police are also looking at thousands of hours of footage from cameras in the surrounding area. The forensics lab of the federal police is combing the museum for trace evidence. “We have also mobilised all of our national and international partners to co-operate with the investigation,” the prosecutor’s spokesperson said.

The prosecutor declined to comment on reports yesterday in the Israeli press that the Israeli couple who died may have been targeted specifically. According to reports, Miriam Riva was a long-time employee of the intelligence service Mossad, while her husband Emmanuel worked for the government. “All possibilities are being considered,” the spokesperson said.

The bodies of the couple were repatriated to Israel yesterday for burial, in accordance with Jewish law. A 67-year-old French woman who worked as a museum volunteer also died in the attack, and a 25-year-old Belgian man, an employee of the museum, is in critical condition in hospital.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave Belgium’s acting prime minister Elio Di Rupo an assurance of his government’s co-operation in the investigation of the attack.

Meanwhile, police and military personnel have been advised to be extra vigilant while the killer remains at large. Military barracks and police stations have implemented extra security measures, and personnel have received safety instructions.