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Teachers told how to spot 'jihadist threat'

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Teachers told how to spot 'jihadist threat'
Photo: APA (Archiv/epa)
11:44 CET+01:00
The headteachers of around 150 schools in Vienna are being instructed in how to spot potential “jihadist threats” today, after a 14-year-old boy who planned to blow up a busy train station was arrested in Lower Austria last week.

Ednan Aslan, from the Department of Islamic Religious Education at the University of Vienna and the Vienna State Protection chief Erich Zwettler are giving a lecture at Vienna’s College of Education.

Organiser Heinz Ivkovits said that Aslan will talk about the difference between "peaceful Islam and a radicalized form which is focused on violence" and explain what exactly is meant by jihad.

Zwettler will talk about what signs to look out for if students have returned from visiting places like Syria and what teachers should do if they think they have identified a “jihadist threat”.

"Changes in the kind of clothes they wear, an increased use of social networks, and absences from school," are all things to look out for, Zwettler told Radio Wien.

He urged head teachers, teachers and youth workers to be on the lookout for the signs and alert Vienna police if they feared that a student had been radicalized.

Police are focussed on preventing young people from travelling to Syria or Iraq to fight with terrorist organizations such as Isis, and then returning and planning terror attacks on Austria, he said. 

They are aware of 60 individuals who have returned from Iraq and Syria to Austria, but these are all adults, he added.

The Ministry of Education has sent all schools in Austria an information folder called Youth and Extremism. All teachers and school psychologists will attend an information session on extremism and deradicalization as part of the autumn teacher conference.

The 14-year-old who was arrested last week is in pre-trial detention after admitting that he planned to bomb Westbahnhof, one of Vienna’s busiest railway stations. Police are examining his computer and phone records and his links to jihadists. 

Police began investigating him after he made increasingly radical statements supporting Isis and began to research on the internet how to acquire the parts to make a bomb.

The Austrian government has warned that Islamist militancy is on the rise and officials have said around 140 people have left Austria to fight with the likes of Isis.

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