June 2, 2014 -- New York -- AJC praised French authorities for apprehending, in Marseille, a suspect in the fatal terror attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Three Jews were killed, and one remains in critical condition, shot in cold blood by a gunman on May 24.
The suspect, Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, is a French citizen from the city of Roubaix, near the border with Belgium. He has self-professed ties to radical Islam. Two years ago, another French citizen with similar links murdered four Jews, three children and a rabbi, at a Jewish school in Toulouse,
According to the French prosecutor, Nemmouche spent more than a year in Syria fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). But his extremism began while in prison in France, where he was incarcerated five times.
"In our many conversations with French and other European leaders, two themes have frequently surfaced," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The first is the widespread concern that European citizens, from Britain, France, Germany, and other countries, are making their way to Syria to fight in what they view as a 'jihadist' cause and returning filled with battlefield training and violent impulses. The second is that prisons have too often become incubators for Islamic radicalization. In this particular case, it appears, both concerns have converged. European authorities would be well-advised, we believe, to step up still further efforts the monitoring of these perilous fronts.”
David Harris is AJC Executive Director, Edward and Sandra Meyer Office of the Executive Director.