• Austria's news in English

Vienna 'a hub for European jihadists'

The Local · 25 Aug 2014, 12:22

Published: 25 Aug 2014 12:22 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Nine suspected Chechen jihadists who were arrested in Austria on Wednesday had planned to use this route.

"The conflict in Syria is attracting foreign fighters from all over Europe to Austria. The route to Syria is simple and safe,” a report from Austria’s Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism (BAT) said.

The report stated that Austria is used as a place for recruiting and organising European jihadists who plan to travel through the Western Balkans to Syria.

Around a quarter of people travelling from Austria to Syria are Austrian nationals, "who have family members in Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans."

As many as 130 people from Austria are believed to be fighting as jihadists abroad. More than half of Austria's jihadists originally come from the Caucasus region and have a valid residence permit in Austria. The rest are mainly Bosnian and Turkish-born.

Turkey plays a significant role in Islamist networks - as it is relatively easy to cross the border into Syria, and has links to the controversial Millî Görüş movement, which is also active in Austria.

The BAT report notes that jihadists who return to Austria represent a particular threat: "After returning from the war zone with battle experience, having had traumatic experiences and associated behavioural changes, and having deepened their radical beliefs present a significant security risk for Austria."

The worry is that they will set up centres for recruiting new jihadists.

Der Standard writes that Austria has not been very successful in introducing a strategy for de-radicalising returning jihadists. A telephone hotline for people wanting to leave a terrorist organisation has been repeatedly postponed, and there is no social programme for jihadist ‘drop-outs’.

Story continues below…

John R. Schindler, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, writes in a recent blog post that “for years, Vienna has served as the de facto base for Islamist extremists from Southeastern Europe, a place to recruit, raise and hide funds, and radicalize, thanks to Austria’s permissive laws and weak enforcement mechanisms. It’s an exceptional terrorist or Salafi radical in Bosnia who has not spent some time in Austria.”

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available