Gang linked to Vienna terrorist attack arrested in Italy

Italian police said Friday they arrested seven people accused of supplying fake identity papers to terrorists, including the suspect behind last year's deadly attack in Vienna.

Gang linked to Vienna terrorist attack arrested in Italy
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lays a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the Vienna terrorist attack. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The suspects, described as “eastern European citizens”, produced “thousands of forged documents, also for the Vienna attacker and for foreign fighters”, police said in a statement.

They were caught in a raid called “The Caucasian Job” after “a complex investigation” led by Milan prosecutors with the support of EU police agency Europol, the statement added.

Turko Arsimekov, a 35-year-old Chechen asylum seeker who lived in the northern Varese province, was the group’s leader, the AGI news agency said, reporting from a press conference.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

The suspects produced the fake documents “with extraordinary ease” in Ukraine, AGI quoted Milan anti-terrorism prosecutor Alberto Nobili as saying.

The Italian probe stemmed from another anti-terror operation, conducted by Austria in late 2019, against “the possible planning of terrorist attacks in Europe”, police said.

Investigators found “significant links” between Friday’s suspects and “international terrorist networks of religious origin and in particular” with the Vienna attacker.

On November 2, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in the Austrian capital before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major terrorist attack in Austria for decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

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‘Decomposing smell’: Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

Austria's police department said they were called to an apartment complex in Vienna after a person was concerned about a "smell of decomposition".

'Decomposing smell': Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

This week, the Viennese police department started a weekly ‘series’ of sharing interesting stories on their social media accounts

Calling the series ‘Misunderstanding Wednesday’ (Missverständnismittwoch), the very first post is about a call they received to an apartment complex after a concerned citizen complained to emergency services about a “smell of decomposition in the staircase”.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

The alleged corpse, it turns out, was just the neighbour’s smelly shoes which were left in the building corridor, in front of their apartment.

The police didn’t say when exactly the incident took place.

“When our colleagues are called because of the ‘smell of decomposition in the staircase’… and notice that the stunk is from the neighbour’s shoes which were left in front of the apartment door”, the official Twitter account of the Vienna police department reads.

‘When in doubt it is an emergency’

The authorities were light-hearted about the misunderstanding, even sharing a “meme-like” picture on their social media accounts, saying “some missions turn out to be different than initially assumed”.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

However, they reiterated that the misunderstandings should not deter people from calling 133, the emergency police number. They added that in case of emergencies and even if you are not sure, the authorities should be called and they will assist you.

“Note: in case of doubt, it is an emergency”, the Vienna police department says. “Never be afraid to dial the emergency number.”