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TERRORISM

Jihad recruiter sentenced to 20 years in Austria

A Muslim preacher at the centre of an Austrian jihad propaganda network was sentenced to 20 years in jail on Wednesday for recruiting young fighters to the Islamic State group.

Jihad recruiter sentenced to 20 years in Austria
Youtube screenshot

The 34-year-old “brainwashed” dozens of people aged between 14 and 30, according to the public prosecutor, and recruited a number of them to fight for the jihadist organisation in Syria.

A court in the southern city of Graz found the preacher, who goes by the name of Ebu Tejma, guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation and of inciting terrorist attacks following a trial that has been running since February. 

Tejma fled from Bosnia to Vienna following the break-up of Yugoslavia and preached in various Austrian and southern German cities, becoming a “key figure” in pushing IS propaganda, the prosecution said.

He was arrested during a far-reaching crackdown on Austrian jihadist networks in 2014 and denies the charges against him. 

A second accused was sentenced to 10 years for his involvement in recruiting fighters, as well as taking part in IS attacks in Syria. 

Several trials are currently under way in Austria for involvement in or incitement to jihad. 

Authorities suspect some 250 people of jihad-linked activities, the majority of them from Chechnya or Bosnia. At least 40 people who travelled from Austria have died fighting alongside ISIS, according to the interior ministry.

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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