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TERRORISM

Jihadist pair ‘planned more attacks in Paris’

Two men who were arrested in Salzburg in early December with suspected links to the November Paris attacks have reportedly confessed to planning more attacks in the French capital.

Jihadist pair 'planned more attacks in Paris'
Salzburg regional court. File photo: APA

The pair were arrested in a centre for refugees in Salzburg “on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organisation”.

They had been posing as refugees and had travelled up from Greece through the Balkans into Austria.

According to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper the pair were stopped by Frontex border guards in November as they were found to have fake Syrian passports and were not allowed to travel onto France, as they had planned.

Bild reports that the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution tipped off the Austrian authorities that the pair were staying in a refugee camp in Salzburg – and they were arrested on December 10th.

The two men, a 28-year-old Algerian and a 34-year-old Pakistani, applied for asylum in Austria and had their fingerprints taken. According to French newspaper Le Parisien they had arrived on the Greek island of Leros on October 3rd, along with two of the Paris attackers who have still not been identified.

They had reportedly been in contact with the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a shootout with French police days after the November 13th attacks. 

The Salzburg prosecutor's office would only confirm that currently six people suspected of involvement in a terrorist organization are in pretrial detention in Salzburg and that due to the ongoing investigation it could not divulge any further details.

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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