Austrian teen jihadist jailed for bomb plot

A 14-year-old boy who plotted a bomb attack on a Vienna train station was sentenced on Tuesday to eight months' detention.

Austrian teen jihadist jailed for bomb plot
Rudolf Mayer, lawyer to the accused teen. Photo: Sven Wolter/Wikimedia

He was also found guilty of belonging to a “terrorist” organization and given an additional suspended jail sentence of 16 months by a court in his hometown of Sankt-Pölten.

The Austrian teenager of Turkish origin, named only as Mertan G., was arrested in his home last October after he began enquiring online about buying bomb parts. 

According to prosecutors, the jihadist teenager was planning to carry out an attack on Vienna's Westbahnof train station and had made contact online with terrorist networks including Isis and al-Qaeda. 

He intended to join “holy war” in Syria alongside Isis after carrying out the attack, the charge sheet said. 

After his initial arrest the boy was released from custody in November but then arrested again in January after he went into hiding and violated the parole conditions. He was picked up in Vienna and has since been kept in pre-trial detention until appearing in court in Sankt Pölten for his trial.

The boy's lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, said his client had “come to understand that he had succumbed to good propaganda”.

The teenager's legal defence said the boy had turned to religion following problems in his private life.

His lawyer said: “He wanted to be deeply religious, and then as a teenager came across pages on the internet that claimed to represent the only true religion.”

Mayer, who became well-known after representing Josef Fritzl in 2009, added that the teen believed that through religion he could do something good, “namely to defeat the unbelievers and fight”.

Police had said at the time of his arrest in October 2014 that the boy made “concrete enquiries about buying ingredients” for a bomb and “planned to explode the devices in public places, such as the Vienna Westbahnhof,” a major train station.

Unconfirmed press reports said Isis had offered to pay him 25,000 euros ($27,250) if he managed to carry out the attack.

In common with other European countries, Austria has seen a steady flow of people leaving or attempting to leave the country in order to join Isis militants in Syria and Iraq.

According to the Austrian interior ministry, more than 200 have done so, including some women and minors. Around 70 have since returned, several of whom are in custody awaiting trial.

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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.