Authorities say Vienna killer tried to join Islamic terror group

Police officers guard the scene in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Police in the Austrian capital said several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. local time on Monday, Nov. 2, in a lively street in the city center of Vienna. Austria's top secur
Police officers guard the scene in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Police in the Austrian capital said several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. local time on Monday, Nov. 2, in a lively street in the city center of Vienna. Austria's top secur

'The fact is that the terrorist managed to deceive the judicial system's deradicalization program.'

Posted: Nov 3, 2020 2:43 PM

VIENNA (AP) — A man who had previously tried to join the Islamic State group rampaged in Vienna armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest, fatally shooting four people before he was killed by police, Austrian authorities said Tuesday.

Witnesses described dozens of screaming people fleeing the sounds of gunshots Monday night in a nightlife district crowded with revelers enjoying the last hours before a coronavirus lockdown.

Others barricaded themselves inside restaurants for hours until they were sure the danger had passed. Video that appeared to be from the scene showed a gunman, dressed in white coveralls, firing off bursts seemingly at random as he ran down the Austrian capital’s dark cobblestone streets.

While the attack lasted just minutes, authorities said only on Tuesday afternoon that there was no indication of a second attacker — adding to tension in the capital as residents were urged to stay home.

Two men and two women died from their injuries in the attack — including one German woman, according to Germany’s foreign minister. Authorities said a police officer who tried to get in the way of the attacker was shot and wounded, along with 21 other people.

The suspect was identified as a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual citizen with a previous terror conviction for attempting to join the Islamic State group in Syria. Police searched 18 properties as well as the suspect's apartment, detaining 14 people associated with the assailant who are being questioned, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.

“Yesterday's attack was clearly an Islamist terror attack," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. “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.”

The attacker, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, was armed with a fake explosive vest, an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete, according to Nehammer. Before the attack he posted a photograph on a social media account showing him posing with the rifle and machete, Nehammer said.

Fejzulai was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 but was granted early release in December.

“The fact is that the terrorist managed to deceive the judicial system's deradicalization program” to secure his release, Nehammer said, adding that the system should be reevaluated.

He also said that an attempt to strip Fejzulai of his Austrian citizenship had failed for lack of enough evidence.

The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed credit for the Vienna attack, calling the perpetrator a “soldier of the Caliphate.” The claim of responsibility was published through the militant group’s media arm, Aamaq. It didn't elaborate on the attacker’s ties to IS and had similar wording to past, opportunistic claims by the group.

IS also released a video through Aamaq of what is said was the attacker, Fejzulai, whom it called Abu Dujana al-Albani — apparently a nom de guerre — showing him pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group. It wasn't clear when the video was filmed.

In North Macedonia, police said a list of suspects sent by Austria included two others with dual Austrian and North Macedonian citizenship.

In Switzerland, police in the city of Winterthur said an 18-year-old and a 24-year-old were arrested in consultation with Austrian authorities. Investigators are now trying to determine the nature of the two men's contact with the Vienna suspect.

Some of the circumstances of the Vienna shooting are reminiscent of the case of Usman Khan, who stabbed two people to death in 2019 in central London. Khan had been sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted for his role in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange. He was released in December 2018 after serving half his sentence, as are most prisoners in Britain. While in prison, Khan had begun working with a program that seeks to rehabilitate criminals through storytelling and workshops.

Nikolaus Rast, Fejzulai’s lawyer in the 2019 case, told public broadcaster ORF that his client had seemed “completely harmless” at the time.

“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 radical,” Rast added. “I still remember that the family couldn’t believe what had happened with their son.”

Authorities worked well into Tuesday to determine whether there were any other attackers, with some 1,000 police officers on duty in the city. People in Vienna were urged to stay at home if possible on Tuesday, and children did not have to go to school.

By mid-afternoon, investigators sifting through copious video evidence had found “no indication of a second perpetrator,” Nehammer said. “But because the evaluation is not yet concluded, we cannot yet say conclusively how many perpetrators are responsible for the crime.”

For the time being, an elevated security level will remain in place in Vienna, he said. The country held a minute of silence at midday Tuesday, accompanied by the tolling of bells in the capital, and the government ordered three days of official mourning, with flags on public buildings to be flown at half-staff.

The shooting began shortly after 8 p.m. Monday near Vienna’s main synagogue as many people were enjoying a last night of open restaurants and bars before a monthlong coronavirus lockdown, which started at midnight.

Nine minutes later, it was over, Nehammer said.

Alois Schroll, an Austrian lawmaker and the mayor of the town of Ybbs, said he had just arrived at a nearby restaurant when the shooting began. He said he “saw many, many people running with their hands up high, they were in a panic and screaming.”

Police "sealed off the entire restaurant," Schroll, 52, told The Associated Press. “People inside the restaurant were in shock, there were several women who were crying. And it wasn’t until shortly before 1 a.m., that police finally let us out of the restaurant."

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister said he saw at least one person shoot at people sitting outside at bars in the street below his window near the city’s main synagogue.

“They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Hofmeister said.

The attack drew swift condemnation and assurances of support from leaders around Europe, including from French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has experienced three terror attacks in recent weeks. U.S. President Donald Trump also condemned "yet another vile act of terrorism in Europe.” Britain raised its terror threat level to severe, its second-highest level, following the attack in Austria and others in France.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 487374

Reported Deaths: 6589
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1011101588
Ramsey43212805
Dakota36478392
Anoka33391390
Washington22156259
Stearns18774202
St. Louis14838264
Scott13354107
Wright12554116
Olmsted1183389
Sherburne876173
Carver779840
Clay693687
Rice671591
Blue Earth598335
Kandiyohi580174
Crow Wing522382
Chisago500345
Otter Tail484370
Benton448290
Winona419349
Mower408131
Douglas393668
Goodhue387569
Nobles387147
Polk344363
McLeod340250
Beltrami338651
Morrison325647
Itasca314046
Lyon313644
Becker313142
Isanti307656
Steele302311
Carlton300149
Freeborn284124
Pine282416
Nicollet260441
Todd248930
Brown246137
Le Sueur236920
Mille Lacs228547
Cass220724
Waseca209717
Meeker207934
Martin190328
Wabasha18673
Roseau180717
Hubbard160741
Houston158014
Dodge15354
Renville151240
Redwood147027
Fillmore13838
Pennington137016
Chippewa136735
Cottonwood135420
Wadena131320
Faribault124017
Aitkin119133
Watonwan11768
Sibley117310
Rock115814
Kanabec107819
Pipestone101724
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9498
Jackson94010
Swift87918
Pope8085
Marshall78015
Stevens7448
Lake74218
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68616
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62011
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5122
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44468
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3105
Lake of the Woods2201
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 335795

Reported Deaths: 5478
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51900558
Linn19487315
Scott17120211
Black Hawk14939293
Woodbury13798214
Johnson1313875
Dubuque12431195
Dallas1020292
Pottawattamie9844146
Story961945
Warren512776
Clinton501584
Cerro Gordo499583
Webster494988
Sioux479469
Marshall463773
Des Moines427861
Muscatine424693
Buena Vista412637
Wapello4035108
Jasper386767
Plymouth368378
Lee354453
Marion340670
Jones285055
Henry279837
Bremer269755
Carroll266749
Crawford252835
Boone243130
Benton240454
Washington238847
Mahaska215646
Jackson209938
Dickinson203040
Tama202665
Kossuth198755
Delaware185840
Clay184125
Winneshiek183028
Fayette179135
Page177819
Buchanan177529
Wright174131
Hamilton173842
Cedar171723
Hardin169739
Harrison167469
Clayton160054
Butler159031
Floyd148141
Mills148120
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee145836
Lyon145541
Allamakee143648
Madison142418
Iowa139823
Hancock137830
Grundy132230
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129411
Cass129051
Jefferson128334
Appanoose123347
Louisa122343
Mitchell120540
Chickasaw119615
Union118831
Sac118618
Shelby117033
Emmet115240
Humboldt113625
Franklin109119
Guthrie109028
Palo Alto101221
Howard99321
Montgomery96836
Clarke94920
Keokuk92329
Monroe89628
Ida81432
Adair81329
Pocahontas80919
Monona76427
Davis76323
Greene73110
Lucas71621
Osceola68315
Worth6677
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53818
Ringgold50520
Audubon4769
Wayne46221
Adams3184
Unassigned00
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 35°
Mason City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 29°
Austin
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 30°
Charles City
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Several days of mild weather expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events