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Brussels Jewish Museum shooting suspect – lessons for Europe

 Cross posted from the blog of the CST


Miriam and Emanuel Riva, two of the Brussels victims.

On Friday 30 May, customs officials in Marseilles, southern France, arrested 29-year-old French national Mehdi Nemmouche on suspicion of having perpetrated the previous Saturday’s terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium. If this is the terrorist, then there are some blatant lessons to be learned about modern Jihadism and the security implications for Jews and non-Jews in Western Europe.

The truth is that by now, after over a decade of terror attacks and plots, from Madrid to Manchester, these lessons ought merely to be confirmed: but many people are still reluctant to accept them.

The Brussels attack occurred on Saturday 24 May and was carried out by a gunman using a pistol and an AK 47 assault rifle. CCTV images showed an unidentified man walking into the unguarded building, before he opened the museum door and shot inside, leaving three dead and another on the brink of death. The gunman then walked away. News of Nemmouche’s arrest was supplemented by statements from Belgian prosecutors and French authorities.

These were initial responses and came before Nemmouche’s initial questioning had concluded, never mind any actual trial and confirmation of guilt. Nevertheless, a summary of the current information is extremely worthwhile:

  • Nemmouche was radicalised whilst in French prison. He was jailed for robbery and spent five stints in prison. Of Muslim origin, he went from having little or no interest in Islam, to becoming a would be Jihadist radical.
  • He joined Jihadists in Syria. He left for Syria on December 31, 2012, three weeks after being released from prison.
  • In Syria, he fought with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the most radical of the Syrian Jihadist groups: more so even than Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusrah, from which it split (and to which it is now hostile). ISIS is the most popular destination for western Jihadists traveling to Syria.
  • Nemmouche returned to Europe in March 2014. (Having spent over one year in Syria.)
  • He was known to the French authorities. How closely they were monitoring him before, during or after the Brussels attack remains to be seen. He was arrested in what is described as a customs search of the coach on which he was traveling from Brussels to Marseilles. (It had originated in Amsterdam.)
  • In his luggage was found the same weapons as apparently used in the Brussels attack; a baseball hat similar to that worn by the shooter; and news cuttings about the attack.
  • The weapons were found with a white cloth bearing in Arabic the name of ISIS and “G-d is great”.
  • Nemmouche also had a Go Pro camera similar to that used by Mohamed Merah when he filmed his murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah primary school in Toulouse, France in April 2012. Nemmouche has apparently admitted that the camera was strapped to his bag so it would film the attack, but it failed to do so. In his possession, Nemmouche had a 40 second film of the weaponry, which includes someone (seemingly him, but not definitely) saying they carried out the attack.

For now, the most important lessons appear to be very obvious:

  • Europeans (including hundreds of Britons) who travel overseas to fight Jihad pose a potentially deadly terrorist threat upon their return here.
  • The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.
  • Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense.
  • Those who rushed to claim that these killings were somehow not what they appeared (such as supposed brilliant intellectual Tariq Ramadan) should have kept their biases to themselves.
  • Even if some west European commentators and politicians want to keep hiding from the ramifications of each successive Jihadist terrorist attack and plot, their local Jewish communities can have no such luxury.
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30 replies »

  1. Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense

    Indeed. But who are the idiots making such comparisons?

  2. “◾The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.”

    As the suspect was stopped at an internal border control that makes this point incorrect.
    As someone who travels regularly from a Regional Airport in the UK to Italy I know this point is incorrect.

    • Since the suspect appears to have crossed (unhindered) from France to Belgium to commit this heinous crime (despite being known to the French authorities), the point seems to have some validity. Air travel will (as I’m sure you know) always have considerably more rigorous security procedures.

      • HouseLouse I don’t know if you are being deliberately obtuse, but, the suspect was stopped at a Bus Station. When you travel from one EU country to another EU country whether by air or ferry, or in this case by bus, they are still internal border controls.

        • Gerald,
          There’s nothing but a round sign on the motorway between Belgium and the Netherland heading north.
          I am not sure if this has changed since 2007 (when I was there).

          • Itsik that may well be the case.
            But do I need to remind you that not all E.U. countries are party to the Schengen Agreement, the two you mention are among the original signatories. Paradoxically there are Non-E.U. countries that are, e.g. Norway, Switzerland.

    • There is currently publicity about the Muslim Brotherhood’s scuttling away to Austria, given the UK government’s enquiry into their dealings.

      But (curses to the EU’s open border policy and Daisy May’s incompetence in keeping tracks on UK terrorists and their fellow travellers and supporters) there seems little to prevent them coming back here in small numbers to radicalise and fundraise.

  3. I spend part of each year in England and am a member of a small provincial Jewish congregation for while I am there. There has never appeared to be any awareness among the members of any threat to themselves from jihadis or long-term from mass-Muslim immigration. They simply refuse to even discuss anything that might be thought to be anti-Islamic. I met nothing but incredulity that anyone can even raise such a subject as a threat to Jews from Muslims. It literally cannot be discussed, it is virtually taboo and utterly rejected.

    The only perceived and voiced threat has been their recently focusing on a fairly mild political party called UKIP. By focusing on and expressing fears about this party they can erase the reality posed by the real threat.

    This make-believe situation in Britain (if it is typical) can’t go on indefinitely. The trained jihadis returning from Syria will not see a return to Britain or elsewhere in Europe as an end to hostilities. Trained to kill and probably with ‘kills’ to prove it, these lethal terrorists are rather more worrying to me than UKIP.

    • moshe as well as the threat posed by those returning from Syria, estimated to be about 400 from the UK, there is also the threat posed by those who are ‘radicalised’ or even converted while in prison in the UK.
      The threat from those who travel to fight in Syria is dealt with by this link from the Security Service (MI5)

      The threat from those who ‘graduate’ from jihadi training in prison needs constant attention.

      Those who travel abroad to fight, e.g. Syria, or support terrorism in any way should have their citizenship revoked and refused re-entry to the UK or any other part of Europe.

      • Gerald, good idea, but you are assuming that Daisy May’s department, whose responsibility this is, is up to snuff. It isn’t, as we see from the number of “banned” Islamist hate-preachers who fly in under the radar to further mess with Muslim heads.

        • Serendipity my suggestion assumes the ‘political will’ to carry it out.

          I am never sure if it is incompetence on the part of the civil service or a lack of political will and more importantly backbone on the part of the elected politicians, that causes the ‘foul-ups’ and failure to act in government.

    • I empathise. In my congregation certain members are so carried away with interfaith activities that one even sent round an email from JfJfP at Chanuka, asking the membership for donations for “the poor Gazans”

  4. Having missed the initial chance to tell us how the Brussels killings were probably the work of the far right and by extension the fault of Sarkozy, Cameron and UKIP, the Guardian has opted for a sulky silence about Nemmouche. I suppose it is progress of a sort that this time time they haven’t – yet – tried to turn the story of the murder of Jews into yet another complaint about Islamophobia.

    Still, give them time…

  5. How’s this for a classic As-A-Jew reaction to Brussels?

    Isn’t not Islam(ism), it’s not the steady flow of anti-“Zionist” bile from rigt, left and even MSM sources. It’s the Israelis who are the problem:

    This made me (almost) laugh:

    “Yet you won’t hear any criticism of Netanyahu, Liberman or Bennett from mainstream Jews and certainly not from European gentiles.”

    • P.S. I wonder what a “mainstream Jew” is? Are their mainstream Christians, mainstream Buddhists and mainstream Muslims too?

    • Derfner was kicked in the ass by Jerusalem Post for legitimating Palestinian terror against Jews.
      Here the quite absurd apology for him at his new ‘homebase’ for despicable idiots.