Vienna man on trial for jihadist activities
A 25-year-old suspected jihadist is appearing in court in Vienna on Monday, accused of having fought for an al-Qaeda affiliated group and taking part in weapons and religious training.
If the man, a native Chechen, is found guilty he faces between one and ten years in prison. A 17-year-old girl is also standing trial. She is married to the man under Islamic law and was planning to travel with him to Syria in Spring last year. She faces up to five years in jail, for membership of a terrorist organization.
The 25-year-old, who came to Austria with his family when he was two-and-a-half years old, is believed to have fought with Islamic militants in the Pakistani-Afghan border region between October 2011 and August 2013.
According to prosecutors his father gave him money to support terrorist activities. He was arrested by Pakistani police and deported to Austria, but a case against him was dropped due to lack of evidence, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
However, police continued to monitor his activities and on April 30th last year he was arrested at Vienna airport. He and his then 16-year-old wife planned to fly to Syria to join the al-Nusra Front, which is allied to al-Qaeda.
Since then he has been in police custody. His wife was freed and allowed to return home.
According to figures from the Interior Ministry around 300 people have left Austria to join Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, sparking concerns about the national security threat posed by those who return from the war-ravaged countries.