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French Jihadi Convicted in 2014 Brussels Terror Attack that Killed Four

Mehdi Nemmouche was convicted of the May 24, 2014 terror attack that killed four people at Belgium’s Jewish Museum, France24 reported Friday.

The attack was the first carried out in Europe by a foreign fighter returning from the civil war in Syria.

The jury convicted Nemmouche after a two-month trial in Brussels, the Belgian capital. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday and could receive life imprisonment.

In a shooting spree that lasted less than a minute and a half, Nemmouche killed four people. The first two killed were an Israeli couple, Miriam and Emmanuel Riva. The jihadi also killed Alexandre Strens, an employee of the museum, and a French volunteer, Dominique Sabrier.

The killing of the Rivas provided Nemmounche with a pretext to argue that he was tricked. The Israeli government acknowledged that Miriam Riva worked for Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, but as an accountant. His lawyers suggested that the killing was meant to target a Mossad agent and that their client was set up as the fall guy.

However, the Riva family, the Belgian prosecutors, and the Jewish community rejected the conjecture as a conspiracy theory.

The trial established that Nemmouche had been radicalized in Syria, that he was anti-Semitic, and that he had attempted to purchase a rifle before the attack.

When he was captured, Nemmouche was found with a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol, and a computer that had six videos of him admitting to the attack.

Nemmouche is awaiting trial for his role in the capture and torture of French journalists in Syria.

In The Myth of the “Lone Wolf” Terrorist, which was published in the June-July issue of The Tower Magazine, The Israel Project’s Senior Fellow Julie Lenarz used Nemmouche’s case to illustrate the connections the seemingly lone wolf terrorist had with existing terrorist organizations.

However, he was anything but a “lone wolf.” Nemmouche had previously spent a year in Syria, where he fought with Islamic State and was known as a notorious torturer of prisoners. He had a history of criminal activity, although not related to terrorism, and previously served five years in prison for armed robbery, during which he was likely exposed to radical Islamic teachings. Just three weeks after his release in September 2012, Nemmouche traveled to Syria to join Islamic State and eventually returned to Belgium in 2013.

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 in the cities of Montauban and Toulouse. A telephone recording also proved that he was in contact with Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, the ringleader of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that took place on November 13, 2015.

Nemmouche’s case mirrors the journey of many jihadists that are often wrongly characterized by politicians, journalists, and the general public as “lone wolves.”

[Photo: euronews (en français) / YouTube ]