November 06, 2020
The Austrian national flag waves of half-mast on a building downtown in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. 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. MATTHIAS SCHRADER / AP PHOTO
By Frank Jordans | The Associated Press
BERLIN – Police in Germany on Friday raided the homes and businesses of four men linked to the Islamic State sympathizer who carried out a deadly attack in Vienna this week, as Austria announced the closure of several mosques in the country.
German police, including members of the anti-terrorism unit GSG9, searched premises in the central city of Kassel, Osnabrueck in the northwest and in Pinneberg county near Hamburg.
Police said that while the men weren’t currently suspected of involvement in Monday’s shooting, there was evidence that they had links to the attacker.
Four people were killed in the attack, and the gunman also died. Twenty others, including a police officer, were wounded.
German federal prosecutors said that two of the men whose premises were searched were believed to have met the attacker in Vienna this summer. A third man had contact with him online, while the fourth had no direct contact to the attacker but was in touch with people who knew him.
Prosecutors said they were trying to collect possible evidence during the searches and that nobody was arrested.
Authorities in Austria have identified the attacker as 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai, a dual national of Austria and North Macedonia who had a previous conviction for trying to join IS in Syria and had been given early release in December.
An investigation has been launched into why Austria didn’t put Fejzulai under observation despite being tipped off by Slovakian authorities that he had tried to purchase assault rifle ammunition at a shop in Bratislava in July.
Austrian authorities have searched 18 homes and detained 15 people in the country in connection with the attack. Four of them had previous terror-related convictions and several others also had criminal records. Authorities in neighbouring Switzerland also took two people into custody this week.
On Friday, Austrian authorities ordered the closure of what were deemed to be “radical mosques,” the Austria Press Agency reported. Officials planned to hold a news conference later Friday.