Austria was hit by an attack on Monday that killed at least four. This in imitation of France, which was startled by several incidents last week. Is there a link between the attacks? And why is Austria the target? Press submits these and other questions to terrorism expert Jelle van Buuren.
Do the recent attacks in Western Europe have anything to do with each other?
It is still too early to know whether there is a connection between the attacks or whether they are inspired by each other, says Van Buuren.
“Various scenarios are conceivable. You could expect that the attacker in Austria was inspired by the attacks in France. However, it may also be the case that the perpetrator, or perpetrators, had been planning something for some time and have this as an appropriate moment. For example, just like in France, the attack took place one day before a lockdown, when there were still many people on the street. “
However, Van Buuren does not expect it to have been a “spontaneous” action by the shooter. “Nobody just has a machine gun in the house. The perpetrator has also tried to travel to the caliphate before and has been convicted of involvement in a terrorist organization. He identified with IS and was prepared for violence. But exactly how it went remains to be seen. More information will undoubtedly emerge from the searches and interrogations. “
“We do indeed see this happening more often. Especially with loners you see the so-called copycat behavior”, says Van Buuren. But according to him, attackers are constantly inspired, not necessarily by a recent attack. “From unconfirmed reports it appears that the attacker in Austria has referred on social media to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. That was already five years ago.”
“The attacker in Austria seems to have prepared the attack in more detail. He had an automatic weapon, while knives were used in France.”
Another difference is that the attacker wanted to leave for the caliphate, something that was not the case with the attackers in France.
“The suspect in Austria generally meets the profile of attackers as we have encountered in recent years. He wanted to join IS, was stopped and has been in prison for that.”
“Austria has a strange paradox. The country is second only to Belgium for jihadist travelers,” explains Van Buuren. “There are also communities in the country where jihadist ideas are relatively common.”
Austria also participates in the anti-IS coalition and has a polarized climate around Islam and refugee policy, partly influenced by the electoral success of far-right parties. “All conditions that, just like in France and Belgium, for example, could lead to more terrorism.”
Yet almost no attacks have been committed in recent years. “We (terrorism experts, ed.) Try to explain why Austria has not been hit hard by terrorism before, but that question is still difficult to answer.”