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Austria arrests 16-year-old on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack

The Local Austria
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Austria arrests 16-year-old on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack
Police are currently investigating teenager said to be planning a terrorist attack. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

The teenager was allegedly planning an attack against a synagogue in Vienna, authorities have said.

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Austrian authorities have arrested a 16-year-old boy from Upper Austria on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack against a synagogue in Vienna. The arrest was made last Thursday, December 7th, and the teenager is in custody.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) and the head of the Directorate of State Security and Intelligence (DSN), Omar Haijawi-Pirchner, held a press conference on Monday to announce the arrest and provide details about the investigation.

According to Haijawi-Pirchner, the suspect, who lives near Steyr in Upper Austria and has "Austrian citizenship and a Turkish migration background", had been making concrete plans for an attack on an unspecified synagogue in Vienna since October. He had been radicalised on the internet and was inspired by the activities of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

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The arrest was made after the authorities received information about the suspect's plans. House searches were conducted at the suspect's home and other locations, and several electronic data carriers were seized. These devices are now being forensically analysed and are said to contain "a number of videos from the Islamist terror group Islamic State".

According to the head of the DSN, instructions on how to make bombs, weapons and ammunition and how to carry out attacks were also found among the "clear image and video material".

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"We have prevented a dangerous terrorist attack," said Interior Minister Karner. "The suspect was well-prepared and had access to the necessary resources to carry out his plans."

DSN head Haijawi-Pirchner warned that the threat of terrorism in Austria remains high and that the authorities are constantly monitoring the situation. He also called on the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities to the authorities.

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The authorities are continuing their investigation into this case, and more information may be released in the coming days. The suspect has been interrogated and is playing down the chat messages, saying he didn't mean them seriously and had no intention of joining or supporting the IS. 

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