• Austria's news in English

Police arrest 13 in raids on jihad recruiters

AFP/The Local · 28 Nov 2014, 09:55

Published: 28 Nov 2014 09:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Some 900 police were involved in the raids, which took place in Vienna, Graz and Linz. They follow a two-year investigation into several people suspected of recruiting young people to fight in Syria.

Media reports said a Vienna-based Bosnian-Serb preacher, who was the main suspect, was among those arrested in the raids which began at 4:00am.

See our special feature Profile of a Jihadist

Police also seized "terrorist propaganda," files, a set of brass-knuckles and sums of money in various homes, said prosecutors in Graz, who were coordinating the operation.

Beyond recruiting fighters, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper said that the suspects were investigated for helping to finance the Islamic State group.

Some 150 people have so far left Austria to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, or have been stopped while trying to do so, according to the interior ministry.

One case which got a lot of publicity in Austria was that of two teenage girls who left for Syria in April, telling their parents that they wanted to "fight for Islam" there.

Vienna 'hub of global jihad'

Vienna is considered by counter-terrorism experts such as John R. Schindler to be a hub of global jihad.  In August, nine Chechens who were planning to wage jihad with Isis in Syria were arrested by Austrian police, and are awaiting trial. 

Austria's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung) warned in June over the threats faced by the country, saying:

"Religiously motivated extremism and terrorism – above all of Islamic character – as well as Salafi-jihadi groups continue to present a great potential threat…The number of young radicalized followers of violent Salafism continues to rise."

"In this context, the conflict in Syria is of urgent relevance for Austria, since systematic efforts are being made within [Austria] to radicalize and recruit people for the war in Syria…The conflict in Syria has become very popular among violent extremist Salafis."

"The spectrum of recruits to the conflict in Syria is broadly ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, seems to be uniformly jihadi."

Story continues below…

Possible Bosnian Connection?

Benjamin Weinthal, European affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post, identified at least three separate jihadist movements operating in Austria.  One of those has strong links to Bosnia, and is allegedly funded by Iranian officials.

The raids may be linked to police raids across Bosnia-Herzegovina on November 13 as part of Operation Damascus, in which Bosnian authorities arrested eleven Islamist radicals suspected of supporting jihad and terrorism in Syria and Iraq.

The arrests in Bosnia were made because the Salafi-backed Islamist group was allegedly actively recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq, were gathering weapons and explosives, and were financing further terrorist operations.

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

AFP/The Local (rosie.waites@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

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/Flickr

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.

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