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TERRORISM

Austrian jihadist ‘killed by Kurdish soldiers’

An Austrian jihadist from Bregenz in Vorarlberg has reportedly been killed by Kurdish soldiers whilst fighting with Isis militants in northern Syria.

Austrian jihadist 'killed by Kurdish soldiers'
Deni Vasilyev's red white red residency permit was found next to his body.

33-year-old Deni Vasilyev had lived in Austria for almost ten years, after fleeing Belarus and claiming asylum here.  

He is believed to have travelled across Germany to Turkey and from there into Syria to join fighters with the so-called Islamic State group – but it is not clear when he arrived in Syria.

A report on the Kurdish news website ANF-News said that Vasilyev’s body was found with his Austrian residence permit, his health insurance e-card and the business card of a dentist in Bregenz.

Vasilyev had taken a course to become a crane and forklift operator in Austria in 2010. The course fees had been paid by the Catholic organization Caritas, as he was unemployed at the time.  

In 2010 he took part in a refugee day in Bregenz, and acted out the part of a border guard in a drama designed to show people what life as a refugee is like.

It is not clear when he became radicalized, and state security head Erich Schwärzler told the Vorarlberger Nachrichten that he would discuss the issue with the police intelligence agency on Wednesday. 

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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