Police Searching for Gunman Behind Deadly Jewish Museum Attack
By Candice Naranjo
Sun May 25th, 2014 9:29am America/Los_Angeles
CNN) — Images from the Jewish Museum of Belgium show the gunman behind Saturday’s deadly attack approaching the building, opening fire, and walking away.
He used an AK-47 assault rifle to carry out the shooting, which killed three people, police said Sunday.
Photographs and video released by Belgian police show the man wearing a cap and blue shirt, carrying two bags over his shoulder. The images do not show his face clearly.
The shooter left on foot after the attack and headed toward a different part of downtown Brussels before he disappeared, according to police.
Authorities are hunting the suspect, believed to have been acting alone, deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said. Investigators hope the public will help to identify the suspect.
Two of those killed in Saturday’s attack are Israeli and the third is French, Van Wymersch said.
The Israelis were a couple in their 50s from Tel Aviv, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the French victim was a woman and offered his condolences Sunday to the families of all those killed, his ministry said.
Another seriously injured victim, who was hospitalized, is Belgian, according to Van Wymersch.
A person who was detained Saturday soon after the shooting is considered a witness and not a suspect, Van Wymersch added. That witness was not seen in surveillance video recorded during the attack, she said.
The circumstances of the shooting have raised suspicions that it may have been an anti-Semitic attack, but no motive has been determined. Van Wymersch said it was too early to determine whether the attack was an act of terrorism or motivated by anti-Semitism.
Belgium’s Interior Ministry raised its terror alert level in the wake of the attack.
Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet told a news conference Saturday that the security threat level was at its highest at locations frequented by the Jewish community across the country. This measure is precautionary, she added.
She met with the police, Belgian Jewish community leaders and the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, on Sunday to discuss the security arrangements, an Interior Ministry statement said.
The Jewish community is determined to continue its activities in schools, synagogues and cultural centers, but under heightened security with a permanent police presence, the statement said.
Kantor is also to hold urgent talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, his group said in a statement.
Kantor described the attack as “horrific but not surprising” and urged action by European governments to tackle extremism and hate speech.
“Attacks on Jewish targets in Europe do not exist in a vacuum, but are part and parcel of an overall climate of hate and incitement against Jewish communities,” he said, according to the statement.
“Anti-Semitism begins in the public domain, it gains international legitimacy and becomes normative even in our national parliaments but it always ends in killing Jews.”
In neighboring France, two Jewish men were assaulted late Saturday as they were leaving a synagogue in Creteil, outside Paris, the French Interior Ministry said Sunday.
Two men were involved in the aggression against the two Jewish men, who are bruised, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve instructed police and other authorities to strengthen security at Jewish sites while looking for the perpetrators of Saturday’s incident, which he strongly condemned, according to the ministry.
In the wake of the attack in Brussels, Cazeneuve reaffirmed his determination to fight those who commit murderous acts and spread racism as well as well as anti-Semitism, the ministry said.
A global survey released in May by the Anti-Defamation League reported on the levels of anti-Semitism found in 102 nations.
Belgium received a 27% index score in the survey. The index score represents the percentage of adults in a country who answered
“probably true” to a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes tested. Belgium has an adult population of about 8.7 million.
The ADL said one-fourth of adults worldwide are “deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes,” according to a CNN.com report on the survey.
France had the second highest index score in Europe, with 37%, although that was well below Greece, with 67%. Germany had a score of 27%, Spain 29%, Sweden 4% and the United Kingdom 8%. The United States was given an index score of 9%.
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