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Brussels Shooting to be Classified as 'Terrorism'?

Case passed to federal prosecutor, who is authorized to handle terrorism offenses - but officials won't confirm significance.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 5/26/2014, 1:40 PM / Last Update: 5/26/2014, 3:36 PM

Man lays flowers at memorial outside Brussels Jewish Museum
Man lays flowers at memorial outside Brussels Jewish Museum
Zaka International

In a significant development, an inquiry into the weekend attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels which claimed four lives has been transferred to Belgium's federal prosecutor's office which is authorized to handle terrorist crimes.

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 requalified as a terrorist act.

The decision to transfer the case was based on "the identity and nationality of the victims" - Tel Aviv natives Miriam and Emmanuel Riba, a French woman who did volunteer work at the museum and a 24-year-old Belgian museum employee.

The young Belgian was said by Jewish leaders to have died Sunday of injuries in the Saturday afternoon shooting but Van Wymersch said he was alive though "clinically dead."

She said the transfer of the case to the federal authorities was also based on police analysis of video footage showing the gunman to be "cold-blooded and quite determined in his behavior." 

The announcement comes amid claims authorities have made "significant" headway in their investigation into the massacre.

Yet despite the various announcements of progress the killer remains at large, and police have ramped up already-tight security at Jewish institutions around the country.

Chilling video footage of the attack, captured on CCTV, was released by police yesterday. It shows the attacker, whose face is hidden under a dark baseball cap, stepping through the door, drawing a Kalashnikov assault rifle from a bag and opening fire on his victims - an Israeli couple, a French woman and a young Belgian man.

The murders - which bear a chilling resemblance to the murder of three children and a rabbi in at a French school in 2012 - have highlighted fears in Europe over rocketing anti-Semitism

European Jewish leaders responded with harsh criticism over what they said was a lack of seriousness by European governments in dealing with anti-Jewish incitement. 

Israeli leaders issued sharp condemnations as well, and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky vowing to help European Jews "defend themselves" against hate crimes.

AFP contributed to this report.