Vienna anti-terror chief suspended after assault failures

The head of anti-terror operations within the Austrian capital Vienna was suspended Friday as particulars emerged of additional safety lapses within the run as much as this week’s jihadist assault which left 4 individuals useless.

Erich Zwettler, the pinnacle of Vienna’s anti-terror company, had “asked to be suspended from his functions”, Vienna police chief Gerhard Puerstl advised a press convention, as additional embarrassing revelations got here to gentle of missed alternatives to forestall the bloodshed.

During Monday evening’s rampage, the primary main terror assault in many years in Austria, a 20-year-old man who had beforehand been jailed in Austria for a terror offence opened hearth on passersby with a Kalashnikov in central Vienna, inflicting shock and anger.

Zwettler’s place grew to become untenable within the gentle of “obvious and intolerable” failures, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer stated, after revealing that gunman Kujtim Fejzulai had been involved with individuals who had been on the radar of the German intelligence companies.

A tip-off from German intelligence about these conferences had apparently not result in elevated surveillance of Fejzulai, who on the time was following an Austrian de-radicalisation programme having been launched early from jail.

Earlier this week, it got here to gentle Austrian intelligence officers had additionally been warned by their counterparts in neighbouring Slovakia that Fejzulai had tried to purchase ammunition earlier this yr.

Nehammer himself has come beneath stress within the days for the reason that assault with sharp criticism coming from opposition events that the failures had taken place beneath his watch.

On Friday, the federal government ordered the closure of two mosques frequented by Fejzulai which had allegedly furthered his radicalisation.

‘Radical’ mosques

The twin Austrian-Macedonian, who was shot useless by police, had been convicted in April 2019 for attempting to hitch the Islamic State group in Syria, however launched early in December on probation.

Nehammer stated earlier this week that Fejzulai had managed to “fool” the de-radicalisation programme, attendance of which had been a situation of his launch.
Integration Minister Susanne Raab stated Friday that the federal government’s non secular affairs workplace “was informed by the interior ministry that Monday’s attacker, since his release from prison, had repeatedly visited two Vienna mosques”.

The two establishments are in Vienna’s western suburbs, one known as the Melit Ibrahim mosque within the Ottakring district, and the opposite being the Tewhid mosque within the Meidling space.

The BVT home intelligence company “told us that the visits to these mosques furthered the attacker’s radicalisation,” Raab stated.

Only one of many mosques was formally registered as such, Raab stated.

A press release from the Islamic Religious Community of Austria (IGGOe) stated one formally registered mosque was being shut as a result of it had damaged guidelines over “religious doctrine and its constitution”, in addition to nationwide laws governing Islamic establishments.

“Religious freedom is something precious in our country that we must and will protect – including from those within our own ranks!” stated IGGOe President Umit Vural.

Also on Friday, the Vienna prosecutor’s division stated that of the 16 individuals arrested within the wake of the assault, eight of them aged between 16 and 24, have been suspected of “supporting the perpetrator in the run-up to attack” whereas one other six had been launched.

The probe into the attacker’s circle has unfold to Austria’s neighbours, with investigations ongoing in Switzerland and Germany.

On Friday, German police stated that they had raided flats and workplaces within the north-east of the nation utilized by 4 individuals who might need had hyperlinks to Fejzulai.

“Two of the individuals are believed to have met the suspected assailant in July 2020 in Vienna,” Germany’s federal legal company stated.

Prosecutors in Switzerland have confirmed that two Swiss males aged 18 and 24 who have been arrested Wednesday had already been the targets of legal circumstances over terrorism offences.

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