World News

Belgian tests for bioweapon on suspect prove negative

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian police tested materials found on an Islamic State suspect for signs he was trying to make biological weapons but found the mixture posed no such threat, the public prosecutor said on Friday.

Newspaper La Derniere Heure said Abderrahmane Ameuroud, shot and arrested three days after the Islamic State suicide bombings in Brussels, was carrying a plastic bag in his rucksack that contained animal testicles and excrement in what police believe may have been a crude attempt to cultivate noxious bacteria.

Officials declined comment on the precise materials but the prosecutor issued a statement saying: “The rucksack contents ... could at no time have been used to make a biological weapon.

“This has been verified by various tests in laboratories.”

Ameuroud, a 38-year-old Algerian, was shot in the leg by police at a Brussels tram stop in broad daylight on March 25 and passersby filmed a robot being sent in to take his rucksack.

Jailed in France in 2005 over the 2001 assassination of anti-Taliban Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud days before al Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks, Ameuroud is named by prosecutors only as Abderrahmane A. He is charged with membership of a terrorist organisation linked to Reda Kriket, a man arrested in Paris on March 24 and accused of planning a new Islamic State attack.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Toby Chopra