Jewish museum shooting suspect arrested in France


The man from Roubaix is said to have become radicalised while in prison for armed robbery and last year fought in Syria

Picked up in routine drugs check

A man has been arrested in the south of France for the shooting death of three people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels last month.

The suspect has been identified as 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, from Roubaix, France, close to the Belgian border. He is said to have become radicalised in prison, where he served two years from 2009 for armed robbery. Prior to that, a former lawyer said, Nemmouche had not been religiously inclined. He went to Syria last year to fight on the side of Muslims opposed to president Bashar al-Assad.

Nemmouche (pictured) was picked up last Friday after a routine drugs check by customs at Saint-Charles bus station in Marseilles, where he had just got off the bus from Brussels. Officers discovered a firearm in his luggage, as well as a Kalashnikov of the sort used in the Brussels shooting, a Go Pro camera and a peaked cap similar to the one being worn by the shooter in security footage released by police.

According to the prosecutor, the camera contained a video in which Nemmouche filmed his weapons while explaining that the attack was against the Jews, with the intention of “setting Brussels alight”.

According to French president François Hollande, the suspect was arrested “the moment he set foot in France. The whole government is mobilised to pursue jihadists and prevent them from causing harm”.

Before the 24 May shooting in Brussels, in which an Israeli couple and a French national were killed and a Belgian seriously injured, Nemmouche had lived for a time in Kortrijk, according to federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw. Yesterday a search was carried out at the house where he was staying, and two other occupants were questioned.

The Belgian federal prosecutor has applied to have Nemmouche extradited to stand trial for the crime.

Meanwhile, a youth who made a false declaration of responsibility for the attack via Twitter could face criminal charges, police said. The message was addressed to Joël Rubinfeld, chair of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, and included a death threat against him.