A Frenchman with suspected ties to Islamic radicals in Syria has been arrested over last week’s fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, investigation sources told AFP on Sunday.
The 29-year-old was arrested in the southern French city of Marseille on Friday and had a Kalashnikov and another gun with him, a French police source told Reuters. The man, named by the source as Mehdi Nemmouche, was from the northern French city of Roubaix.
French media reported that he was suspected of having stayed in Syria with jihadist groups in 2013.
The shooting left an Israeli couple and a French woman dead at the scene, with a fourth victim, a 24-year old Belgian man, taken to hospital but left “clinically dead,” according to reports.
Customs officials detained Nemmouche at Marseille’s coach station on board a bus arriving from Amsterdam via Brussels. The Belgian newspaper La Libre reported that sources close to the investigation said that he had a Kalashnikov rifle and a revolver with ammunition in his luggage, “weapons of the type used on May 24 in Brussels.”
It was also reported that the suspect was arrested with a GoPro handheld camera, like the one used by the jihadist killer Mohamed Merah, who filmed his murders of three paratroopers and three children and a Jewish teacher in 2012 in Toulouse and Montauban in the southwest of France.
Last week the annual Europol report on terrorism in the named France as the terrorist capital of the European Union, with 63 of the 152 EU-wide terrorist attacks in 2013 taking place in the country.
Europol warned: “In the wake of the Syrian conflict, the threat to the EU is likely to increase exponentially. European fighters, who travel to conflict zones, are assessed as posing an increased threat to all EU member states on their return.”