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TERRORISM

Wanted jihadist calls Vienna mosque ‘pro Isis’

An Austrian jihadist wanted by Interpol has said that he was recruited to the Isis terrorist organisation in the Floridsdorf mosque in Vienna. However, the Islamic Centre denies any connection to Isis.

Wanted jihadist calls Vienna mosque 'pro Isis'
The mosque in Floridsdorf. Photo: APA/Techt

Firas Houidi,19, is charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and incitement to commit serious crimes. He told TV station Puls 4 that “the director of the Islamic Centre in Floridsdorf will be able to give you answers. They are arming Isis.”

“It’s nonsense. We condemn Isis and distance ourselves from its followers and sympathisers,” the spokesman for the Islamic Centre, Imam Salim Mujkanovic, told Puls 4. “If we know anyone is trying spread radical ideas we will notify the authorities,” he added.

He said the centre is closely cooperating with the police and the Federal Agency for State Protection (BAT).

According to media reports Houidi is currently in the north of Syria, in Raqqa, from where he regularly reports via Facebook on his experience as an Isis fighter.

Alexander Marakovits, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told the Austrian Press Agency that he was aware of Houidi’s allegations, and that the mosque was “under observation”. He confirmed that there was cooperation between BAT and the centre.

Puls 4 spoke to Houidi via Facebook, as Isis would not allow him to do a video interview. The full report will be broadcast at 6.45pm, on Monday evening.

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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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