After the bloody terrorist attack in the middle of Vienna City on Monday evening, the main suspect, who had apparently announced the act on the web, has now been identified. According to information from the Interior Ministry, it is a 20-year-old ethnic Albanian who also had Austrian citizenship and was known to the security services.
Kujtim F. had a criminal record and was released from prison in December 2019. The ISIS supporter, who was armed, among other things with an illegal AK-47 assault rifle, was shot by WEGA near the Ruprechtskirche. WEGA a special unit of the Austrian police in the federal capital Vienna.
The suspect, who had posed heavily armed in pictures, was convicted in Austria at the end of April 2019 – for membership in a terrorist organization (Section 278b StGB). He was sentenced to 22 months in prison because he wanted to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist militia in Syria. He was conditionally released early in December 2019 because he was considered a young adult and thus enjoyed the privileges of the Juvenile Court Act.
Also, while in prison, the young man participated in a deradicalization program and because of his “good conduct” was eventually released early, Heute.at reported.
According to the Austrian daily Krone Zeitung, Kujtim F. swore an oath of allegiance to the new head of the terrorist militia ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, shortly before the bloody acts. The assassin showed himself in the photo with a machete, a pistol and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. A fully automatic assault rifle was apparently also used in the attacks in downtown Vienna.
The fully automatic version of the AK-47 Kalashnikov is considered war material and, according to the Austrian Weapons Act, falls into category A (prohibited weapons). The terrorist is said to have obtained them illegally.
Shortly before the attack, the assassin once again expressed his sympathy for the ISIS terrorist militia. It is not yet known whether the postings also served as a call to accomplices to strike. The assassin’s Instagram account is now closed.
Four people were killed in the terrorist attack, and there are 14 others, some seriously injured. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed that several house searches were ongoing “around the perpetrator”. Several people have been arrested.
Sources told FWM that the city was almost empty with many shops that were closed. The shock was still palpable, even after several arrests.
The lawyer Nikolaus Rast, who had represented Kujtim F. in a hearing at the Vienna Regional Court, where he was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment in April 2019 as an ISIS sympathizer, said he could not understand why his client had killed at least four people in Vienna on Monday evening. “I would never have thought it possible that he would become an assassin.”
Kujtim F. previously wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS. In Turkey, however, he was picked up by the authorities, prevented from crossing the border into Syria, detained and sent back to Austria.
“He came from a perfectly normal family. For me, it was a teenager who was unlucky enough to make the wrong friends. If he had not gone to a mosque but to boxing, he would have become a boxer,” said Rast.
But the name and origin of the assassin indicate that he belonged to the Albanian minority in North Macedonia. As local media reported on Tuesday, he came from the village of Celopek near the city of Tetovo. The area is almost exclusively inhabited by ethnic Albanians. This minority makes up around 25 percent of the population of the small Balkan country and is largely committed to Islam while the majority population is made up of Orthodox Slavic Macedonians.
With the help of special units, the Austrian authorities have arrested twelve suspects, aged 16 to 25, and born in Austria, Kosovo, Bangladesh and Chechnya. The men born in Austria all have foreign roots.
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