France has extradited Mehdi Nemmouche, the man suspected of shooting dead four people at Brussels’ Jewish Museum, to Belgium.
A spokeswoman for the Belgian police told AFP that Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, arrived in Brussels on Tuesday and was being interrogated.
Four people were fatally shot in the attack on May 24, in broad daylight in the heart of the Belgian capital.
Mehdi Nemmouche, who is of Franco-Algerian origin, is said to have spent a year fighting with Islamists in Syria.
Mehdi Nemmouche, who is of Franco-Algerian origin, is said to have spent a year fighting with Islamists in Syria (photo FranceTV)
His lawyer appealed against the extradition, saying it failed to guarantee that he would not be sent to “a third country,” but France’s final appeals court rejected the complaint last week.
Mehdi Nemmouche was said to fear that once he was sent to Belgium, he would be extradited to Israel.
Two of the victims of the May 24 attack were Israeli tourists. A French female volunteer at the museum and a Belgian employee were also killed.
Mehdi Nemmouche is from Roubaix near the border with Belgium and was arrested in Marseille, during a routine customs check as he arrived on a coach from Amsterdam a few days after the shootings.
Police said he was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun matching those used in the attack.
Prosecutors said that after spending a year in Syria he had returned to Europe, flying to Germany in March.
Belgium sought Mehdi Nemmouche’s extradition under a European arrest warrant, which fast-tracks the legal process.
French authorities have arrested four people have in the Paris region and southern France on suspicion of recruiting militants to fight in Syria.
The raids came a day after it emerged a Frenchman was being held by police investigating the murder of three people at the Brussels Jewish Museum.
Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, was arrested at a station in Marseille on Friday.
Prosecutors say he has claimed responsibility for the attack and spent more than a year in Syria.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazaneuve told Europe 1 radio on Monday: “There are people who recruit jihadists. There are as I’m speaking arrests being made.”
Mehdi Nemmouche was arrested at a station in Marseille on Friday
“We are acting everywhere. There will be no respite in the fight against terrorists.”
There is no suggestion of a link between the four arrests on Monday and the detention of Mehdi Nemmouche during a random check on a coach arriving from Amsterdam in southern France on Friday.
However, Mehdi Nemmouche is said to have had links with radical Islamists and served five years in jail in France for robbery before being released in December 2012.
When he was arrested, he had with him a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun believed to have been used in the attack, the Paris prosecutor said.
Mehdi Nemmouche was also said to have had a white sheet emblazoned with the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a jihadist group fighting in Syria, and a camera with a 40-second video showing the two guns and a voice recording, claiming responsibility for the killings.
Speaking on French radio station RTL on Monday, the head of French Jewish association CRIF, Roger Cukierman, called for more resources to be given to the foreign intelligence service, the DGSE, to track militants returning to France from Syria.
He feared “they would become 700 time bombs when they return”, referring to the estimated number of French-born jihadists in Syria.
Belgium has requested Mehdi Nemmouche’s extradition from France and police have to decide whether to extend his detention until Thursday.
Three people died when a gunman opened fire at the museum in the busy Sablon area of the Belgian capital on May 24. They were an Israeli couple in their 50s, and a French female volunteer.
A Belgian man, believed to be an employee of the museum, was critically injured.
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