An alleged home-grown French terrorist was arrested Friday for the deadly May 24 shooting of a Jewish museum in Brussels, Belgium that left three dead, including two Israeli citizens.
The arrest of 29-year old Mehdi Nemmouche was announced by prosecutors on Sunday after he was apprehended in southern France. One of the firearms he was arrested with was wrapped in a sheet that bore the insignia of the al-Qaida linked Syrian rebel group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
An Ak-47 — which was the same weapon used in the one-minute massacre in Brussels — was also found in his possession.
Nemmouche has a long criminal record that includes marks for violent incidents, but none of his prior charges have been for anything relating to terrorism. According to the Associated Press, it is believed he was radicalized during one of his many incarcerations in prison.
After his most recent visit to jail in 2012 for armed robbery, Nemmouche booked it to Syria, where he spent almost a year. It is strongly suspected that he spent his time there fighting alongside radical Islamic groups such as ISIL and he had just returned to Europe in March of 2014, Haaretz reports.
Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leuw said that this case demonstrates the danger of radicalized elements travelling to Syria for training and returning to Europe to commit acts of terror.
“The new elements in this investigation draw attention once more to the problem of the ‘returnees’ — in other words, the people going to Syria to participate in combat and return afterward to our country,” Van Leeuw said at a Sunday press conference. “All European countries are confronted at this moment with this problem.”