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TERRORISM

Driver in Vienna ‘shouting Allahu Akbar’ tries to run over pedestrians

Police in Vienna are investigating whether a 21-year-old man who tried to run over pedestrians with his car on Thursday morning had a terrorist motive.

Driver in Vienna 'shouting Allahu Akbar' tries to run over pedestrians
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Nobody was injured, as the people he targeted managed to jump out of the car’s path in time.

“He was obviously aiming at and trying to hit pedestrians,” police spokesman  Thomas Keiblinger told Radio Wien. “Witnesses said that they heard him shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ out of the car window, which was open,” he added.

The incident happened at around 11:00 am in the district of Favoriten.

According to Austrian media the driver was born and lives in Vienna and has a Turkish background. The man was detained by police shortly after the incident. Keiblinger said he continued to shout Allahu Akbar as he was arrested.

Authorities are now investigating whether he might have had religious or political motives, but say that so far they have not found any links to extremist groups. According to police he has not yet made any statements.

Officers who searched his apartment and seized computers and mobile phones say they were attacked by his brother who was in the property at the time. He was also arrested and later released. 

The incident came on the same day as a court in Graz sentenced a 27-year-old man to life imprisonment after he deliberately ran over and killed three people last June. Alen R. was sentenced to be sent to a facility for mentally unstable criminals.

However the court ruling was invalidated as prosecutors failed to deliver their statement. The man’s lawyer says she will file an appeal.

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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