Austrian authorities say that they believe he “was planning a serious offence in the period between Christmas and New Year in Salzburg”.
Police reportedly received a tip-off about the Moroccan in November. During the raid they had back-up from Cobra special forces, an anti-terror unit, sniffer dogs and explosives experts.
Nine refugees had been provided with accommodation at a former vicarage in Fuschl. Police said that detectives seized electronic data devices, more than €8,000 in cash, and a small amount of drugs. They did not find any explosives. In total, seven people were arrested, but police say the Moroccan is the main suspect thought to have been planning an attack and that the other men were arrested for drugs offences.
Police refused to say whether the Moroccan man is thought to have any links to the Islamic State terror group. The prosecutor's office in Salzburg, which ordered the arrests, also said it did not wish to comment on what is a continuing investigation.
The mayor of Fuschl, Franz Vogl, said that the vicarage is next to a kindergarten, but that parents and children who witnessed some of the police operation on Monday morning stayed calm. He said he was horrified to learn of the arrests and that the nine asylum seekers “had seemed well integrated and had helped out in the community”. He added that local retired teachers had been helping the men learn German and that they “seemed keen to integrate”.
The men are from Morocco, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran and have been living in Fuschl for the past year. The Austrian Red Cross helped organise accommodation for them and has been supporting them. Salzburg’s Red Cross manager Sabine Kornberger-Scheuch said she was shocked by the arrests as “so far there had been no problems in the refugee quarter”.
The community of Fuschl lies between the city of Salzburg and Bad Ischl and has around 1,400 inhabitants.