Monday’s attack in Vienna, with four dead and a score of wounded, has exposed “failures” in the fight against the Islamism in Austria, ending the illusion of the neutral Alpine country that it could continue to live without the terrorism that has plagued most of the rest of Europe.
The so-called “Austrian Islamist scene” is the focus of investigations into the “environment” of the attacker, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, a 20-year-old who had already been sentenced to 22 months in prison for wanting to join the Islamic State (IS) in the war in Syria, and that he was killed by the police.
Fight against terrorism
its attack murderous and indiscriminate to passersby and diners in bars and restaurants in the center of Vienna, was the first terrorist attack suffered by Austria in the last 35 years. The Chancellor of the Alpine Republic, the conservative Sebastian Kurz, now wants to strengthen the fight against Islamic terrorism in Europe.
After speaking last night with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, his office announced that the French president was expected in Vienna next Monday, on a working visit on “European initiatives in the fight against the Islamic terrorism and political Islam “.
However, a few hours later the same source announced that the meeting had been postponed due to the situation of the COVID pandemic in Europe, and is expected to address the issue in a videoconference next week instead.
The “Austrian Islamist Scene”
With more than 300 citizens with Austrian nationality who went to Syria To join the ranks of the terrorist group IS, of which many have returned, Austria is considered to have on its soil one of the largest of the “Islamist scenes” in Europe in proportion to its population of 8.9 million. .
Of the 14 people arrested in an operation with 18 house searches in One and other Austrian cities, there are several that were already being investigated on suspicion of terrorism, revealed the Austrian agency APA based “on the request for arrest and house search of the police.”
Furthermore, from that document, of which APA claims to have a copy, it appears that the perpetrator of the attack “had been known for years as a member of the radical islamist scene“, as the source cites the text of the application.
In fact, one of the detainees was sentenced together with Fejzulai for the same crime, as he was with him on the trip to Syria in 2018, when both were arrested by the Turkish authorities in the turkish-syrian border and then deported to Austria.
The errors of the authorities
What has become clear two days after the attack is that there was errors of the authorities Austrians, who have already begun to blame each other for the pressing question of whether the attack could have been prevented.
It was Kurz himself who fueled the dispute by saying on Tuesday that the attack “would not have occurred” if the young murderer had not been released before serving the sentence, implying that the responsibility lies with the Ministry of Justice, which strongly rejected the accusation.
The Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer, reiterated his criticism of those responsible for the “de-radicalization program” to which Fejzulai submitted and which was a point in favor of his release. The Islamist “perfectly misled” them in terms of his ideological slant and potential for violence, Nehammer said.
The minister was in turn attacked by his predecessor in office, the ultranationalist Herbert Kickl, who accused him of hiding relevant information about Fejzulai held by the secret services.
For Kickl, it is clear that the perpetrator of the attack had long been in the crosshairs of the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution and the Fight Against Terrorism (BVT), dependent on the Ministry of the Interior.
Another question that has become a bone of contention is a report from the Slovak authorities to the Austrians last summer that Fejzulai and another man tried buy ammunition in Slovakia without a weapons permit.
Nehammer admitted today that this communication reached the BVT, but then “there was communication failures internal “and it is not yet known why it was not taken into account, since it is now clear that it should have sounded all the alarms.