Austria set to close ‘radical’ mosques after Vienna terrorist attack
The Austrian government has ordered the closure of two ‘radical’ mosques in the wake of the Vienna terrorist attack.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer and Education Minister Susanne Raab met with the president of Austria’s Islamic Faith Community, Ümit Vural, on Thursday to discuss the problem of Islamist radicalisation in the country.
The ‘crisis meeting’ came after an Austrian-born Islamist killed four and injured several more in a terrorist attack on central Vienna on Monday evening.
The two mosques in question were "frequented" by the gunman, AFP reported.
Raab told a press conference that the government's religious affairs office "was informed by the interior ministry that Monday's attacker, since his release from prison, had repeatedly visited two Vienna mosques".
The two mosques are in Vienna's western suburbs, one called the Melit Ibrahim mosque in the Ottakring district and the other being the Tewhid mosque in the Meidling area.
The BVT domestic intelligence agency "told us that the visits to these mosques furthered the attacker's radicalisation," Raab said.
Only one of the mosques was officially registered as such, Raab said.
A statement from the officially recognised Islamic Religious Community of Austria said one officially registered mosque was being shut because it had broken rules over "religious doctrine and its constitution", as well as national legislation governing Islamic institutions.
Half of those arrested 'had previous violent crime convictions'
The mosque closure announcement came after it emerged that half of those arrested in the wake of the attack had convictions for terrorism or violent crime offences.
The Austrian interior minister confirmed the prior convictions of the detained, with the investigation extending to Switzerland and a second, unnamed country.
In the wake of the attack in which an Austrian-born man shot and killed four people in a popular nightlife area of central Vienna on Monday night, police arrested a total of 16 men.
Four of them had been convicted for terrorism-related offences, two for violent crime offences, and two for an attempted "honour killing", Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told a press conference Thursday.
"We have had intensive cooperation with the FBI," which provided Austrian authorities with "valuable information", Nehammer added, without giving further details.
The investigation has also led to Switzerland, where prosecutors have confirmed that two Swiss men aged 18 and 24 who were arrested Wednesday had already been the targets of criminal cases over terrorism offences.
Authorities in another country are also investigating "direct links to the perpetrator," according to Nehammer, but added he wasn't able to name the country at this stage because of ongoing investigations.