Two under investigation in Germany over 2020 Vienna attack

Investigators in Germany on Wednesday searched the homes of two men suspected of helping to plan last year's deadly terrorist attack in Vienna, federal prosecutors said.

Two under investigation in Germany over 2020 Vienna attack
Archive photo from November 2020 shows tributes to the victims of the terror attack in Vienna. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/APA | Thomas Rieder

Named as Kosovan Blinor S. and German Drilon G., the pair are accused of meeting the attacker through the radical Islamist scene and knowing about the planned rampage but failing to report it.

On November 2nd, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in the Austrian capital before being shot dead by police.

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

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

Blinor S. and Drilon G. had been “in close contact with (Fejzulai) via social media for some time before the attack”, prosecutors said. 

The suspects, who live in Osnabrück and Kassel, are accused of travelling to Vienna to visit Fejzulai for several days in July 2020, shortly after he procured the automatic rifle used in the rampage.

They stayed overnight in his flat and met other members of the Islamist scene from Austria and Switzerland, the prosecutors said.

DNA from participants in these meetings has since been found on the weapons used in the attack, as well as on the ring worn by the attacker.

It is likely the pair knew Fejzulai was planning the attack “due to their close personal relationship” with him and “their common radical Islamist
convictions”, the prosecutors said.

The two men are also accused of trying to conceal their connections to Fejzulai by deleting mobile phone chats and social media content on the
evening of November 2nd, 2020, shortly before the attack.

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EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department