The Frenchman arrested Friday for the triple murder in Brussels Jewish Museum was found in possession of a video in which a man believed to be him is heard claiming responsibility for the attack, French anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said in Paris on Sunday.
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The voice in the video, thought to be that of arrested suspect Mehdi Nemmouche, describes the Brussels killings as an "attack against the Jews," said Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw.
Molins said at a news conference that the video was found on a camera among Nemmouche's belongings during his arrest Friday in Marseille. Nemmouche, 29, does not appear on the video but a voice believed to be his says he had recorded the video because he had not succeeded in recording the Brussels attack with a smaller, portable camera, Molins said.
Nemmouche had an AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle, the same kind used by the Brussels shooter, wrapped in a flag with inscriptions from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a jihadist group, said Van Leeuw. He also had an "impressive quantity" of high-caliber ammunition with him when he was taken into custody by French authorities in Marseille, Van Leeuw noted.
Radicalized in prison
Nemmouche spent a year in Syria after becoming radicalized during the last of five stays in jail in France, said Molins. When he was arrested in Marseille, he was carrying in his luggage weapons and clothes similar to those used in the shooting last weekend, Molins told a news conference, saying there was a "strong body of evidence" tying him to the killings.
"During his last stay in jail he was noticed for extremist [Islamic] proselytism," Molins said. "On Dec. 31, 2012, three weeks after he was freed, he traveled to Syria. He spent over a year in Syria, where he seems to have joined the ranks of combatant groups, jihadist terrorist groups."
Nemmouche is being held on charges of murder, attempted murder and possession of weapons, all in the framework of a terrorist activity, Molins said.
Nemmouche, a resident of the city of Roubaix, was arrested Friday at a routine customs inspection at the Saint-Charles bus station in Marseilles, while he was on a bus from Amsterdam via Brussels.
Aside from the AK-47 and ammunition, Nemmouche had in his possession a GoPro portable camera and a revolver, also similar to those used in the shooting.
Among his packed clothes, Nemmouche had a baseball cap that resembled that worn by the shooter seen on CCTV footage of the attack. Local media also reported that he had in his bag press clippings about the Brussels Jewish museum shooting.
Three people were killed in the May 24 attack, included a French national and Israeli couple Miriam and Emanuel Riva. A Belgian museum employee was critically wounded.
Sources involved in the investigation said that Israeli officials were notified as soon as suspicions arose that Nemmouche could be tied to the Brussels shooting.
Suspicions against him grew stronger after it became clear that he had links to Syria.
The second gun
This was the first time investigators have revealed that a handgun was used in the shooting in addition to the assault rifle. It is not clear why he used two weapons.
Sources said that the use of the second weapon was kept mum from the media in the aftermath of the shooting for reasons pertaining to the investigation. A source said that Nemmouche had displayed a mixture of "professionalism and stupidity," after smoothly implementing a murder and then carrying around the weapons involved.
Nemmouche kept silent for the first 24 hours of his detention, it was reported on La Figaro. His custody, which started mid-day on Friday, can last 96 hours, until Tuesday. If investigators decide to deem the suspect an imminent terrorist threat, his arrest can be extended up to 144 hours, until Thursday, AFP reported.