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TERRORISM

Austrian would-be teen jihadis get custody

Three Austrian teenagers have been given custodial terms for trying to join the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

Austrian would-be teen jihadis get custody
The trial was behind closed doors. Photo: ORF

The trio, one aged 16 and two aged 15, who were not named, pleaded guilty to participation in a “terrorist” organisation at a trial conducted behind
closed doors in Vienna.

Bulgarian authorities arrested the 16-year-old in May on his way to Syria to join Isis, sending him back to Austria where he was put in custody but then released.

He then attempted to convince 10- and 11-year-olds to join the extremist organisation. He was given a 10-month sentence plus a further 20 months suspended.

The other two had concrete plans to go to Syria but were prevented from leaving in June, prosecutors said. One of them attacked his father with a screwdriver after he refused to give his son his passport.

He was also given a 10-month term and 20 months suspended and the other 15-year-old was sentenced to seven months with 14 months suspended.

All three, who were of Chechen and Turkish origin, were Muslims who were radicalised in just a few months, the court heard.

Like other European countries, Austria has seen a wave of people — 260, according to the government, many of them minors and some young women — leave the country to join Isis in Syria and Iraq.

Some have since returned. Around 40 of these are in custody and more than 80 are under close surveillance, according to the interior ministry.

In July a Muslim preacher known as Ebu Tejma at the centre of an Austrian jihad propaganda network was sentenced to 20 years in jail for “brainwashing” dozens of young people as young as 14.

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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