Brussels Court Finds ISIS Terrorist Mehdi Nemmouche Guilty of 2014 Jewish Museum Shooting
French Islamist Mehdi Nemmouche was convicted on Thursday by a court in Brussels for the “terrorist murder” of four people at the Jewish Museum in the Belgian capital in May 2014.
Sentencing in the two month-long jury trial will be announced at a later date.
A second man accused of helping to plan the attack and providing the weapons, Nacer Bendrer, was also found guilty of murder.
Asked whether French citizen Nemmouche was guilty of the murders of Emmanuel and Miriam Riva, Dominique Sabrier and Alexandre Strens, the jury answered in the affirmative for all four victims. The Rivas, an Israeli couple who were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary with a trip to Brussels, were visiting the museum, while Sabrier was a volunteer and Strens worked as a receptionist there when the attack occurred on May 24, 2014.
Nemmouche was captured by French anti-terrorist police in the port city of Marseille six days later, carrying the weapons he used in the atrocity.
Belgium’s main Jewish organization greeted the verdict by saying “justice has been done.”
“The Jewish community as a whole has suffered the consequences of this terrible antisemitic attack,” a statement from the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations of Belgium (CCOJB) said on Thursday evening.
Yohan Benizri, the president of the CCOJB, accused Nemmouche’s lawyers of having introduced “nauseating theories” into their defense. “I can only deplore and condemn it,” Benizri said. Nemmouche’s defense rested on the claim that the attack was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency — an Islamist conspiracy theory that is frequently used to explain different terrorist attacks around the world.
The dramatic eight-week trial included the testimonies of the Rivas’ two daughters, Ayalet, 19, and Shira, 21. The two women described a mother “devoted to her family” and an unassuming father who “loved to travel.”
Two French journalists testified to having been held captive by Nemmouche in the Syrian city of Aleppo one year before the museum attack, where he was a member of the terrorist group ISIS.
Nicolas Henin told the court: “I have absolutely no doubt about the fact that Mehdi Nemmouche who is present here was my jailer and torturer in Syria under the name of Abu Omar.”
He described him as “sadistic, playful and narcissistic.”
His colleague, Didier Francois, told jurors Nemmouche had beaten him dozens of times with a truncheon.
Throughout the trial, Nemmouche appeared disengaged and refused to speak to the court, much to the ire of the Belgian media, which called him “arrogant” and “disdainful” during its eight-week coverage of the proceedings.