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TERRORISM

FPÖ wants to ‘intern’ suspected jihadists

Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) has said that anybody who returns to Austria after suspected involvement with the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist militia should be “interned” and have their citizenship revoked.

FPÖ wants to 'intern' suspected jihadists
FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: APA/Neubauer

FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache and general secretary Herbert Kickl made the comments on Tuesday – with Kickl adding that suspects would have to prove themselves that they had not been fighting with Isis if they wanted to avoid being interned.

There has been much discussion in Austria on boosting security in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris last week by Islamist gunmen.

Strache said that more than 60 suspected jihadists have already returned from Austria after fighting in Iraq and Syria and that they are “ticking time bombs”. Kickl added that internment would protect the public and said that these “special times and challenges call for special measures”.

They both called for Austrian citizenship to be taken away from anybody who was recruited by Isis, and that the “mercenary clause” in Austria’s citizenship act should also apply to jihadist fighters. It allows Austria to revoke citizenship from anyone who joins the military of a foreign state.

Strache added that he believed the vast majority of Muslims were disgusted by the attacks in Paris and cautioned against a general mistrust of Muslims.

He was critical of Austria’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BVT), saying he has received repeated death threats for years, yet nothing has been done about it.

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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