Follow Us

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 04, 2020
Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, posted the photograph on his Instagram account showing him holding the three weapons he would use in the attack and pledging his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi

Austrian authorities were warned that the Vienna terrorist had been trying to buy ammunition across the border in Slovakia, but they ignored the threat, it emerged today.

In the latest security blunder for Austrian intelligence services, it was revealed that Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, tried to buy ammunition in Slovakia in the summer but he failed in his attempts - most likely due to him not having a gun license.

It comes after it was revealed the 'lone wolf' duped officials in a 2019 trial by saying he had been led astray by the 'wrong mosque' and then convinced ‘de-radicalisation’ counsellors he had renounced his ISIS ideals as part of a parole deal.

Slovakian police confirmed the attempted purchase of ammunition and said they had immediately alerted Austrian authorities.

'The Slovak police noticed in the summer that suspicious people from Austria tried to buy ammunition here,' Denisa Bárdyová, spokesperson of the Police Corps Presidium, told TASR newswire. 'The purchase did not happen though.'

Fejzulai was jailed in April 2019 because he wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS but he was granted early release in December under juvenile law.

He was not deemed capable of carrying out an attack, according to a report.

The terrorist, who went on a rampage and killed four people in Vienna, posted a picture on his Instagram account before the deadly attack.

The social media post shows him holding the three weapons he would use in his attack and pledging his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

Fejzulai is seen with a vacant expression staring directly at the camera while clutching his arsenal of weapons, including an automatic rifle, pistol and machete. Until now, the harrowing picture of Fejzulai has been pixelated.

Fejzulai began his attack at 8pm near the central synagogue armed with an automatic rifle, pistol and machete.

The Islamist marauded through the streets wearing a fake explosives belt and injured 22 as he fired at random before he was 'neutralised' - shot dead by police at 8.09pm.

Fejzulai killed an elderly man and woman, a young male passer-by and a waitress.

A 28-year-old police officer was shot but is said to be in a stable condition, while seven civilians who were injured are in a critical, life-threatening condition.

Fejzulai had been jailed in April 2019 for trying to join Islamic State but he was granted parole in December under juvenile law because he was under 18 years old at the time of his offence and had agreed to take part in a de-radicalisation program.

Fejzulai was not deemed capable of carrying out an attack and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer admitted that the terrorist had fooled the country's judiciary and workers on the de-radicalisation course.

'The perpetrator managed to fool the de-radicalisation program of the justice system, to fool the people in it, and to get an early release through this,' Nehammer said.

Austrian police have arrested 14 people in raids linked to the deadly attack and have found no evidence that a second shooter was involved, the minister said Tuesday.

'There have been 18 raids in Vienna and Lower Austria and 14 people have been detained,' Nehammer told a televised press conference.

The minister added that police believe that the attack in central Vienna was carried out by Fejzulai on his own and an evaluation of the video material 'does not at this time show any evidence of a second attacker.'

Initial witness reports suggested that there were several gunmen holding people hostage, resulting in thousands of police being deployed to the city in search for them, swooping in on 18 addresses and arresting 14.

Swiss police on Tuesday also arrested two people in the city of Winterthur as part of an investigation into possible links to the main suspect in attacks in Vienna that killed at least four people, authorities in Zurich said in a statement.

'The two men were arrested on Tuesday afternoon in coordination with the Austrian authorities,' Zurich police said.

'The extent to which there was a connection between the two arrested persons and the alleged assassin is currently the subject of ongoing clarifications and investigations which are being carried out by the responsible authorities.'

Fejzulai's lawyer in the 2019 case, Nikolaus Rast, told public broadcaster ORF that his client had seemed 'completely harmless.'

'He was a young man who was searching for his place in society, who apparently went to the wrong mosque, ended up in the wrong circles,' Rast said.

Fejzulai's family 'wasn't strictly religious at all; the family wasn't radical,' Rast added. 'I still remember that the family couldn't believe what had happened with their son.'

Fejzulai was born and raised in Vienna and was one of 90 Austrian Islamic radicals known to intelligence because they wanted to travel to Syria, one national newspaper editor tweeted this morning.

He had Albanian roots and his parents were originally from North Macedonia, Falter editor Florian Kenk wrote. Police thought he was not capable of planning an attack in Vienna, Klenk added.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer admitted the attacker had 'fooled' the judiciary's de-radicalisation programme.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said this morning: 'It is now confirmed that yesterday's attack was clearly an Islamist terror attack. It was an attack out of hatred - hatred for our fundamental values, hatred for our way of life, hatred for our democracy in which all people have equal rights and dignity.'

His government on Tuesday ordered three days of official mourning, with flags on public buildings to be flown at half-mast until Thursday.

Angela Merkel called Islamist terror the 'common enemy,' saying that 'the fight against these assassins and those who instigate them is our common struggle.'

Authorities were still trying to determine whether further attackers may be on the run for much of Tuesday and people were ordered to stay and home and children did not have to go to school. Some 1,000 police officers were on duty in the city this morning.

The rampage came on the final evening before Austria went into lockdown amid rising coronavirus rates, with bars and restaurants in the country closed from midnight and people flocking to enjoy one last night of freedom.

The first shots were heard at around 8pm in the heart of city close to the central synagogue and the world famous opera house.

Up to 100 shots from an automatic rifle were heard by one witness.

A total of six crime scenes have been set up all in the Innere Stadt - a small area making up the old town of Vienna.

One of those cordons is in place at a well-known restaurant on Ruprechtsplatz 1 where the waitress was shot dead.

Another victim was killed at the Fleischmarkt (meat market) and another at Franz Josefs Kai close to the river.

Further down Franz Josefs Kai, the killer fired and seriously injured a 28-year-old police officer.

Fejzulai was shot dead nine minutes after his assault started close to the restaurant on Ruprechtsplatz 1 where he had killed the waitress.

Video footage showed the suspect, dressed in white coveralls, firing off bursts apparently at random as he ran down the Austrian capital's cobblestone streets.

Other clips showed the man gunning down a person outside what appeared to be a bar with a long-barrelled weapon. He moved down the street before returning to the crumpled body of his victim and then fired at him again, this time with a handgun.

Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish community in Vienna, said the shooting took place in the street where the city's main synagogue is located but that it wasn't clear whether the house of worship had been targeted.

The synagogue was already closed at the time of the shooting, Deutsch tweeted. A neighbouring restaurant was also closed.

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister said he saw at least one person fire shots at people sitting outside bars in the street below his window.

'They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,' Hofmeister said. 'All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown. As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out.'

A Turkish national, Recep Tayyip Gultekin, told how he barely escaped death when he heroically carried an injured woman and then the stricken police officer to safety during the attack.

Gultekin was out with a friend when they heard gunshots, he told Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

'After I carried the woman to a nearby restaurant, the terrorist pointed his gun at me,' Gultekin said.

He hurled himself onto the ground to avoid being hit by the rifle but was wounded.

Despite having the shot embedded in his foot, he and his friend managed to get to a nearby police station where they said they saw the policeman who was wounded.

Gultekin and his friend helped carry the 28-year-old officer to an ambulance.

The shooter had 'shot wildly with an automatic weapon' before police arrived to intervene, witnesses said.

'It sounded like firecrackers, then we realised it was shots,' said one witness quoted by the public broadcaster ORF.

Footage believed to be taken near the scene showed people ducking and weaving as they ran for cover, with shots ringing out.

Police sealed off much of the historic centre of the city overnight, urging the public to shelter in place.

Many were forced to shelter inside hotels and restaurants as police patrolled the streets and warned people to stay inside for fear there were multiple gunmen on the loose.

Around 20 ended up inside the Hotel Wandl where a receptionist 'acted unselfishly and without fear,' in letting people hide inside, Der Standard reported.

Norbert Suchanek, managing director of the hotel, told the paper his receptionist ensured that panic didn't spread when it became clear police were not going to let anyone leave.

The manager said other hotels had turned people away and the receptionist was commended by many guests for his actions at breakfast on Tuesday.

At the nearby Am Stephansplatz hotel, three rooms were opened up last night for people who had been forced to flee the streets in fear of their lives.

One waiter described how police told them: 'You all have to stay inside because there's a probably a dead man there.'

'At the beginning, I thought to myself that maybe we were making an American film or that they had drunk too much,' said waiter Jimmy Eroglu, 42.

Robert Schneider, who lives in central Vienna, went out and found two lasers trained on his chest.

'Hands up, take off your jacket,' officers shouted at him, the 39-year-old told AFP. 'We had seen nothing, heard nothing. We are in shock.'

Vienna police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city. They also said trams and buses were not stopping and urged social media users not to post videos of the police operation, so as not to endanger officers.

Photos and videos from the scene show police officers searching restaurants, cars and people as part of the manhunt.

Czech police said they had started random checks on the country's border with Austria following Monday's attack.

'Police are carrying out random checks of vehicles and passengers on border crossings with Austria as a preventive measure in relation to the terror attack in Vienna,' the police tweeted.

Reacting to the attack, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: 'I am deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna tonight. The UK's thoughts are with the people of Austria - we stand united with you against terror.

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: 'Deeply shocked and saddened by the incident that has taken place in Vienna this evening. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and we stand ready to support in any way we can.'

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Europe would not bow to terrorists following the shootings in Vienna on Monday in which at least two people including one attacker died and several more were injured.

'We French share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people following the attack in Vienna,' Macron tweeted in both French and German.

'After France, it is a friendly nation that has been attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they're dealing with. We will concede nothing.'

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet 'our prayers are with the people of Vienna after yet another vile act of terrorism in Europe.'

'These evil attacks against innocent people must stop. The U.S. stands with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorists, including radical Islamic terrorists.'

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu wrote: 'Israel condemns the brutal attack in Vienna and stands in total solidarity with Austria. Civilized peoples everywhere must unite to defeat the savagery of resurgent Islamist terrorism.'

The attack comes just four days after a knife-wielding Tunisian man beheaded a woman and killed two other people in Nice, France before being shot by police.

Brahim Aoussaoui, 21, allegedly beheaded Nadine Devillers, 60, slit the throat of sexton Vincent Loques, 55, and stabbed mother-of-three Simone Barreto Silva, 44, to death in the horrifying attack.

On October 16, history teacher Samuel Paty was decapitated for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class discussion on free speech on October 16.

He became the subject of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material - the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo five years ago.

The father of one of Paty's pupils, who started the social media campaign even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, is among seven people charged over the attack.

He had exchanged messages with the killer, 18-year-old Chechnya-born Abdullakh Anzorov, via WhatsApp in the days leading up to the murder.

Ricard said two teenagers - aged 14 and 15 - were also among the those being prosecuted for their part in a group who shared €300-350 (£270-£315) offered by the killer to help identify Paty.

The pair stayed with Anzorov for more than two hours waiting for the 47-year-old father of one even after the killer told them he wanted to 'humiliate and strike' Paty over the Muhammad caricatures, seen as offensive by many Muslims.

Anzorov decapitated Paty with a knife and tweeted an image of the teacher's severed head on Twitter before he was shot dead by police.


Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!