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ISLAM

Death threats against Vienna’s Yazidis

Austria’s Federal Office against Terrorism and for Protection of the Constitution (BVT) is alarmed due to death threats against the Yazidi community in Vienna, according to a report in the Kurier newspaper.

Death threats against Vienna's Yazidis
An image from a Vienna based Facebook group, showing a young man with a jihadist flag.

It is currently investigating a newly founded scene of radical Islamists whose members support the Syrian-Iraqi terrorist group Islamic State (IS).

Karl-Heinz Grundböck, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told the Austrian Press Agency that the BVT is observing various radical groups, who have been posting threats against the Yazidi on social media.

However, Grundböck said that he did not believe that there was a real threat to the Yazidi community in Austria – and that there was a difference between someone condoning something and actually committing crimes.

About 700 Yazidi are estimated to live in Austria. An activist involved in the Yazidi-initiative WADI, who did not want to be named, told the Kurier that "they all feel threatened." This fear had increased due to the authority's idleness to react to extremists who run about with jihad symbols, he said.

The Kurier previously reported on a group of young migrants in Vienna, mainly from Floridsdorf or Donaustadt, who sympathize with radical groups like IS.

Most of them are believed to be unemployed teenagers, who practise martial arts and spend much of their time radicalising themselves online. The BVT estimates that there are hundreds of them.

The Yazidi community in Iraq is being persecuted by Sunni extremists in their heartland of the Mt Sinjar region west of Mosul. Yazidis revere both the Bible and the Koran, but much of their own tradition is oral.

They are considered heretical devil worshippers by many Muslims. It is not possible to convert to Yazidism, only to be born into it.

 

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CRIME

Case dropped against second Swiss man over Vienna attack ‘links’

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they had dropped the case against a second Swiss man over alleged links to a deadly shooting rampage in Vienna due to a lack of evidence.

Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which last month decided to drop the case against one suspect, told AFP it had issued a discontinuation order in the case against a second man.

On November 2, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in Vienna before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major attack in Austria in decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Two Swiss citizens who knew Fejzulai were arrested in the northeastern Swiss town of Winterthur just a day after the attack on suspicion they may have helped in its preparation.

‘How was it possible?’ Austrians left asking painful questions after Vienna terror shootings

The two, who were aged 18 and 24 at the time, were known to the police and were the targets of prior criminal cases over terror-linked offences.

The OAG acknowledged Thursday that no evidence had emerged that either man had participated in any way or had prior knowledge of the attack.

The older of the two men was meanwhile hit with a penalty in a separate case with no links to the Vienna file, the OAG said.

The penalty order, seen by Swiss media, indicated that he had been found guilty of violating Switzerland’s law banning Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and related organisations and of being in possession of “depictions of violence”.

According to the ATS news agency, an IS group video was found on his phone depicting people being executed and decapitated.

He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,100, 950 euros), and three years’ probation, ATS said.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

In light of this penalty, he would not be compensated for the 176 days he spent behind bars after his arrest following the Vienna attack, it added.

The OAG said a separate case was still pending against the younger of the two men, also on suspicion he breached the Swiss law banning Al-Qaeda, IS and related organisations, and over “allegations of depictions of violence”. “The presumption of innocence applies,” it stressed.

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