On Friday, the Austria government ordered the closing of two mosques in the capital, Vienna, which were frequented by a gunman who shot four people earlier in the week in the city center.
The Monday shooting was the first major attack in decades in Austria. The perpetrator was later named as Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, who was murdered by the police.
Integration Minister Susanne Raab told a press conference that the government’s Office of Religious Affairs “was advised by the Ministry of the Interior that the attacker had repeatedly visited two Vienna mosques following his release from prison on Monday.”
The two mosques are in the western suburbs of Vienna, one in the Ottakring district called the Melit Ibrahim mosque, the other in the Meidling city called the Tewhid mosque.
The BVT Domestic Intelligence Service “told us that the trips to these mosques advanced the radicalisation of the attacker,” Raab said.
Only one of the mosques was registered officially as such, Raab said.
A statement from Austria officially approved Islamic Religious Group confirmed that one officially registered mosque was being closed because it had violated regulations on “religious doctrine and its constitution” and national laws regulating Islamic institutions.
The Vienna prosecutor’s department also told AFP on Friday that six of the 16 people arrested after the assault were released, with the others remaining in detention while the investigation proceeds into the circle of the perpetrator.
The accused gunman, Fejzulai, a dual Austria-Macedonian citizen, had previously been convicted of attempting to join the Syrian Islamic State party.
On Friday, the government also confessed to “intolerable flaws” in treating the attacker’s intelligence, claiming it should have found him a bigger threat and more closely watched him.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told a news conference that the director of the major domestic security department for the city of Vienna, the Vienna Regional Office for the Defense of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism (LVT), had briefly stood down while an investigation was being carried out.
“Obvious and intolerable errors have been made from our point of view,” said Nehammer.
Fumbling intelligence from Slovakia had already confessed to Austria that the 20-year-old gunman had sought to procure ammunition there.
In the summer, people in Germany who were being monitored by German intelligence remained in Austria and met the attacker here as well,’ said Vienna Police Chief Gerhard Puerstl.
“These facts, together with the findings of information from Slovakia, could have led to a different outcome with regard to the perpetrator’s threat assessment,” he added.
Nehammer said that to ensure the necessary compliance mechanisms are in effect, any such vulnerability analyses will be assessed.
Published in Dharti News, November 6th, 2020