Belgium vs Sweden
The Group F European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden was suspended at half-time. AFP News/JOHN THYS

A judge has charged two men in France for being linked to the Islamist gunman who committed a terror attack against two Swedish football fans in Belgium last week.

After receiving information on the case from the Belgian judiciary, French prosecutors opened a formal investigation into a suspected group of Islamist radicals.

Abdesalem Lassoued was killed by police in a café on Tuesday 17 October, after he admitted to killing two Swedes in an automatic rifle assault in Brussels, Belgium.

Video footage of the attack showed the 45-year-old Tunisian man chasing a person into a building near the King Baudouin Stadium, where a UEFA qualifying match between Sweden and Belgium was taking place.

At the end of the video, multiple gunshots can be heard.

Today, Tuesday 24 October, the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office told reporters that two men have been charged with "forming a terrorist criminal group" in France.

The two men have also been accused of "complicity in murder linked to a terrorist plot".

The prosecutors in France said that the investigation into the suspects "is continuing to determine their links" with the attacker in Belgium.

Local French media has acknowledged that the men have been placed in a detention facility and are part of a group of four individuals who have also been arrested for possible connections to the gunman in Brussels.

While the two men who both reside in the Paris region remain in custody, the other two suspects have been released without charge.

Souleymen Rakrouki, a lawyer for one of the suspects who has lived in Paris for nearly 20 years, told reporters that his client strictly denies all of the allegations.

"He has nothing to do with the attack," Rakrouki declared.

The lawyer went on to explain that the attacker in Brussels "is a friend he has known for a long time, he had not seen any sign of radicalisation. He could have never imagined such an act".

Following the terror attack that targeted Swedish nationals in Brussels, Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne revealed that the gunman was already considered a threat to national security, due to his alleged involvement in human trafficking and people smuggling.

An investigation into Abdesalem Lassoued, also found that before arriving in Belgium, the extremist had escaped from a prison in Tunisia – where he was serving a long sentence.

On Friday 20 October, Quickenborne resigned from his post and took responsibility for the authorities' failure to act on a Tunisian request to deport Abdesalem Lassoued last year.

Fears over terror attacks have mounted across Europe and the Belgian government, with many people doubting their country's intelligence and security protocol.

In Belgium, the shootings caused a public disturbance over judicial and administrative errors in following up on reports on radicalised persons in the country, particularly by the immigration services.

Official documents note that Abdesalem Lassoued had been living in Belgium illegally after his asylum application was denied in 2020.

The documents also recalled that the middle-aged gunman had also applied for asylum in Norway, Sweden and Italy.

Despite Belgian police initially saying that there was no relation between the terror attack and the Israel-Gaza war, prosecutors later announced that they could not exclude that possibility.

France recently increased its terror threat alert to its highest level after a suspected Islamic extremist stabbed a teacher to death at his former high school.

Three other people were wounded in the attack, which took place less than two weeks ago, on Friday 13 October.

The attack was investigated by French anti-terrorism prosecutors, who linked the attack to soaring religious tensions over the war between Israel and Hamas.