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TERRORISM

Terrorist link to Greece after Austrian arrests

Two suicide bombers who died in the Paris attacks and two men held in Austria for suspected links to the operation were all processed as migrants on a Greek island on the same day, a source close to the probe told AFP.

Terrorist link to Greece after Austrian arrests
Photos at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport show wanted terrorists Salah Abdeslam (L) and Mohamed Abrini. File photo: AFP

Two suspects in the November 13 attacks were arrested over the weekend at a refugee centre in the western city of Salzburg after a tip-off from French police, said a separate source in Austria.

The Austrian source said the men were Algerian and Pakistani.

Fingerprint analysis has shown the suspects were processed among migrants arriving on the Greek island of Leros on October 3, according to a French source close to the investigation.

Two of the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside the French national stadium on the night of the attacks were processed on Leros on the same day, the source said.

The Stade de France bombings kicked off a night of horror in the French capital as jihadists hit a series of nightspots, killing 130 people and injuring 350.

Seven attackers blew themselves up or were killed by police in the course of the evening, five of whom have been identified.

The two unidentified Stade de France attackers have been tracked back to two fake Syrian passports used to enter Europe.

A suspected ringleader of the attacks, Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a police raid a few days later and suspected accomplices have been arrested in Belgium and Austria.

Another jihadist, Salah Abdeslam, who was believed to have played a key logistical role in the attacks, has evaded police across Europe who have been hunting for him.

A French police source said Abdeslam may have had links to the two men arrested in Austria, which he is known to have visited on September 9.

According to Austrian authorities, he was pulled over in a routine traffic check on his way from Hungary to Germany. With him in the car, which had Belgian number plates, were two unidentified men. They were all allowed to continue on their way.

The Salzburger Nachrichten daily on Thursday said investigators have reconstructed Abdeslam's journey in his hired Mercedes thanks to the car's anti-theft tracking device.

The paper said he drove through Austria to the Hungarian-Serbian border, and was pulled over again on the return leg of the journey — this time by police in the southern German state of Bavaria.

It said he picked up two men in Hungary — Soufiane K. and Samir R. — and that both had fake Belgian passports.

Earlier this month, French sources said Abdeslam was in Hungary on September 17, meaning he may have made several trips in the run-up to the attacks.

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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