• Austria's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Jihadist teens face five years' jail

The Local · 15 Oct 2014, 12:57

Published: 15 Oct 2014 12:57 GMT+02:00

"You cannot just assume that every departure to Syria means participation in a terrorist combat unit," said Innsbruck criminal lawyer Andreas Venier. The guilt must be proven in every case, he added. The two girls, Samra K. and Sabina S., disappeared from Austria in April.  

According to their parents, Bosnian refugees who arrived in Austria during the 1990s, they announced that they wanted to fight in Syria for Islam. 

The two teens supposedly travelled to join jihadist militants in Syria, and were in the news recently when one of them was reported to have died.  Soon after, they took to social media to report that they were both still alive, and hinted that they might be pregnant.

With recent reports suggesting that the two teenage girls have had second thoughts about their jihadist fighter husbands, and are now wanting to return home to Austria, speculation is mounting on how the Austrian government should treat them.

While it's unlikely that they would face severe penalties, unless it can be proven they have engaged in terrorist activities, some form of criminal case is still likely.

According to Interpol, the girls are still officially missing, and may be being held against their will.  Officially, Austrian authorities have made no comment.

Recently, however, the government made it clear that participation in a terrorist organization - such as Isis - will be punished if fighters or their supporters return to Europe.

As minors, the two would face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, however there are potentially mitigating circumstances, said Venier, if it can be shown they were intimidated or seduced into joining the terrorist group.

The threat of punishment against Isis-members and jihadists does not apply to other fighter groups in conflict areas such as Syria. "The defence of Kobane is certainly not a terrorist offence," Venier said in a reference to Kurdish opponents of the jihadist militia. 
 
Anyone joining a group which attempts to protect human rights and prevent the massacre of civilians commits no offence under Austrian law, said the lawyer.  
 
This even applies if it is a group such as Kurdish People Protection units (YPG) of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is classified by the EU as a terrorist organization.
 
Last month, a group of Austrian muslims set up an organization to help to de-radicalize teens and other young people caught up in the jihadist and terrorist sympathizers' network.  The Austrian government also moved to tighten its laws against support for jihadist organizations, with penalties including loss of passports.
 
In related news, a senior security official said that Austria is under "a certain kind" of threat of terrorist attacks from the extremist group Islamic State (Isis), according to a report in the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

"About 150 people, most of whom have Russian citizenship and are believed to be Chechens, have travelled from Austria to take part in conflicts in Syria and Iraq," Peter Gridling, director of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter Terrorism, said in an interview to the Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

In addition, a number of others with Turkish, Bosnian, Egyptian, Macedonian and Serbian backgrounds have also taken part in the conflicts, he said, adding that 15 to 20 percent of them are believed to have Austrian citizenship.

Story continues below…

"Additionally, there are an even larger number of people in the country - perhaps thousands - who either approve of the activities of these individuals or are not explicitly opposed to them, although they would not necessarily commit themselves to terrorist plots," he added.

The director pointed out that most Muslims in Austria are opposed to terrorism, and most mosques and prayer houses are not believed to be part of the radicalisation process, with only 20 of the 360 such establishments in the country causing concern.

With regard to whether Isis would attack Europe, he said that as long as the military advances of the group are stopped, there is no reason for it to make strikes in Europe.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
First poll predicts Austrian far-right to win election re-run
Photo: Norbert Hofer/Instagram

The first poll taken ahead of the repeat of the Austrian presidential election in October has put the previously defeated far-right candidate a few percentages ahead of his rival.

12 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Andrew Kuznetsov/Creative Commons

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Austrian police assess risks in refugee homes
Caritas Wien

Austrian police are going into asylum centres to encourage friendly relations with locals and to try to spot and prevent radicalisation of refugees.

FBI hack 50 computers in Austria in criminal operation
Photo: @matylda/hackNY/CreativeCommons

A mass hacking carried out by the American FBI in 2015 as part of an international child pornography investigation affected 50 computers in Austria with a virus.

Salzburg Festival: 'soul food in troubled times'
The festivla director Helga Rabl-Stadler and president Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Photo: Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

The Salzburg Festival kicked off on Thursday, with organisers hoping the classical arts extravaganza would give visitors some respite from the "troubled times" Europe is facing.

Austrian festival ups security in wake of attacks
Photo: Lake Festival

Organisers of a festival in Austria expected to see hundreds of thousands of visitors say they have tightened security at the site following recent terror attacks around Europe.

Mystery priest skull and hat discovered in Austria
Photo: ORF screengrab

A priest carrying out renovation work on a church in Austria was surprised to discover a skull that could be up to 900 years old buried in a hidden wall cavity.

Opinion
Austrian case offers British expats hope after Brexit
Jose Manuel Mota/Creative Commons

A legal case concerning an Austrian who gained then lost German citizenship might offer hope to British expats concerned about residency rights following Brexit.

Linz ordered to pay €9 million for lost Klimt and Schiele art
One of Egon Schiele’s paintings in his Tote Stadt series. Image: Wikimedia

The city of Linz has been ordered by Austria’s highest court to pay nearly €9 million to the heirs of an art collector after losing four pieces of artwork she owned by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Terror conspiracy suspects to be extradited
Linz High Court. Photo: www.justiz.gv.at

Austria is to hand over to France two suspected members of the same Islamic State group unit who massacred 130 people in Paris last November, officials and media reports said Wednesday.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Politics
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Gallery
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
National
Another 10 million Euros for fresh elections
Society
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
National
It's gonna be hot... here's how to cope
National
Europe's ice cream capital
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Best Austrian beauty spots
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
National
How to make friends in Austria
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Don't hesitate - break the window
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Sport
Ready to watch some football? Here's how!
National
Cake rules
Politics
Austria's choice for a new president
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Profile on Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party Presidential Candidate
Politics
Austrian politics explained. TL;DR: worry not.
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Features
Refugees need practical help
Lifestyle
All you need to know about Austrian Faschingskrapfen
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Why looking good on the ski slopes has never been easier
Lifestyle
Live in Austria? You might develop some of these weird habits
National
How 'Silent Night' rules the carol world
2,504
jobs available