’12-year-old boy’ part of Austrian Islamic extremist cell

A young boy under the age of 14 has been identified as part of a suspected Islamic extremist network in Vienna, Austrian authorities have said.

'12-year-old boy' part of Austrian Islamic extremist cell
COBRA armed police were involved in the raids. Photo: BMI/Gregor Wenda

He has not been arrested as he is not old enough to be tried in court but he has been detained and is being questioned. The Krone newspaper reports that the boy is just 12 years old, although police would not confirm his exact age. 

Investigations into a 17-year-old terror suspect who was arrested in Vienna on Friday are continuing – but at a press conference on Monday police would not give any concrete details of what they have discovered so far. They did say that the young boy involved had been radicalised by a “hate preacher” and was in close contact with the 17-year-old. 

Austria’s director of public security, Konrad Kogler, said that officials received several tip-offs that suspected Islamic extremists were plotting an attack in Austria a few days before the arrest on Friday, in Vienna’s Favoriten district.

They were able to identify a suspect, who was placed under observation, and security was raised in Vienna. On Friday they arrested him and searched several properties in Vienna and Lower Austria. Several computers and mobile phones were seized and are being analysed.   

The suspect has been named as Lorenz K., born in Austria to parents of Albanian origin. He grew up in the small town of Neunkirchen, south of Vienna. Police say Lorenz K. was known for petty crimes and assault and that they believe he is part of an international network of Islamic State supporters.

When they found that the suspect was in “close contact” with other people in Germany they contacted the German authorities, who arrested a 21-year-old man in the western city of Neuss on Saturday.

Austria’s director of public security, Konrad Kogler, described the radicalisation of Austrian-born teenagers as a “relatively new phenomenon in Austria”.

He asked parents and teachers to contact the authorities if they are concerned that a young person is in danger of becoming radicalised.

Karl Mahrer, the deputy head of the Vienna police, said that a 220-strong standby unit is ready in case of an emergency, but also stressed that “we can continue to live normally and should not feel insecure”.

He added that whilst police are still investigating and until they know if attacks have actually been planned in Austria, security measures will remain high in Vienna and across the country, with an increased police presence in busy public places and transport hubs.

Police have asked people to call them if they see anything suspicious or notice bags left unattended – the number to call from within Austria is 133.

Media reports in Germany and Austria say that the 21-year-old and 17-year-old had experimented with making explosives in a flat in Neuss.

Austrian authorities said that Lorenz K., who turns 18 in the coming days, was transferred to the Justizanstalt Josefstadt prison in Vienna on Sunday afternoon.

The reports said that he possibly became radicalised while serving a year in prison from 2014-15 for assault.


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.