A French jihadist, who shot dead four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014 in the first terror attack on European soil by a returning foreign fighter from Syria, has been sentenced to life in prison, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday.
Mehdi Nemmouche was convicted last week of “terrorist murder” for the vicious attack, which saw him open fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the center of the Belgian capital.
Nemmouche shot the first two people he saw – Emanuel and Miriam Riva, tourists from Israel – before turning to the ticket desk, killing museum workers Dominque Sabrier and Alexandre Strens. He was apprehended in Marseille a week later during a routine travel check.
“Mr Nemmouche, you are just a coward, you kill people by shooting them from behind, you kill old women by shooting them with an assault rifle, you kill because it gives you pleasure to kill,” said prosecutor Yves Moreau. Before jurors retired to consider the sentence on Monday, Nemmouche had smirked and told the Brussels criminal court “life goes on.”
“In the case of Nemmouche, there were no circumstances that would suggest leniency,” read the court’s decision. “He was the mastermind and the one who carried out the crime. The attack had an anti-Semitic character and struck the very heart of the Jewish community.” In addition, read the decision, “Nemmouche has shown himself to be egocentric and narcissistic.”
Nemmouche spent a year fighting in Syria for the Islamic State before returning to Europe to carry out the attack. An accomplice who helped plan the shooting and supply weapons, Nacer Bendrer, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In an op-ed published in The Algemeiner on Monday, TIP Senior Fellow Julie Lenarz observed that Nemmouche was not a “lone wolf” terrorist.
“When Nemmouche was arrested, French police found in his possession an Islamic State flag and a 40-second tape recording claiming responsibility for the massacre at the Jewish Museum. It was later revealed that Nemmouche’s path intersected with another ‘lone wolf,’ Mohammad Merah — the man responsible for three gun attacks committed in March 2012, targeting French soldiers and children and teachers at a Jewish school,” Lenarz explained.
“A telephone recording also proved that he was in contact with Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, the ringleader of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris,” she added. The Brussels shooting came 18 months before the November 2015 Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.
[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube ]