Belgium sends museum murder file to terrorism prosecutor

But deputy public prosecutor refuses to say whether case is being reclassified

People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014. (AFP/Georges Gobet)
People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014. (AFP/Georges Gobet)

An inquiry into a weekend attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels that claimed four lives has been transferred to the federal prosecutor’s office authorized to handle terrorist actions.

Deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch told a news conference that “the file is transferred to the federal” level, but she refused to say whether or not it was being reclassified as a terrorist act.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Saturday, Joel Rubinfeld, who heads Belgium’s league against anti-Semitism, told AFP it clearly “is a terrorist act” as a man had been seen driving up and entering the museum before opening fire inside and running off. He added that the act was the result of a “climate of hate.”

Claude Moniquet, a former agent of the France’s DSGE spy agency, told JTA that Saturday’s slaying of three people in Brussels “is reminiscent of Toulouse and Montauban killings and resembles other similar attacks, including by Islamists.”

In 2012, Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French Islamist, killed four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse several days after he killed three soldiers in the suburb of Montauban. Merah was killed in a shootout with police.

On Saturday afternoon, two individuals pulled up in an Audi car in front of Brussels’ Jewish museum. One man entered the building and killed four people, according to the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism.

Unlike many Jewish institutions in Brussels, the Jewish Museum is not under constant police protection, according to Baron Julien Klener, president of Belgium’s Consistoire, the organization responsible for religious services.

Belgium launched a nationwide manhunt Sunday for the lone suspect in the shooting spree.

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