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16-year-old with IS attack intentions knew Vienna attackers

16-year-old with IS attack intentions knew Vienna attackers
According to his information, the 16-year-old knew the Vienna attacker personally and viewed him as a “role model.”
Image: APA/HELMUT FOHRINGER

According to his statements, he knew the Vienna attacker personally and viewed him as a “role model.” He also wanted to buy a pistol in pursuit of his terrorist plans, but couldn’t get one in a gun shop in Vienna. It was previously known that the guy at the main train station wanted to stab and kill people in the name of IS, only to then be shot by the police. However, he then backed out and left the station area again because – as he later explained – he lost his courage. He was arrested the next day: The Directorate of State Security and Intelligence (DSN) had been warned by a foreign partner service and thus tracked down the 16-year-old. He announced the attack in a Telegram channel in which 19 young IS supporters were gathered.

Posted selfie with drawn combat knife before attack

As research by the APA has now shown, the 16-year-old had also posted a selfie on this channel immediately before the planned attack, which he had taken in the basement of his home and with which he made clear reference to the Vienna attacker who died on January 2nd. November 2020 killed four people in the city center before he was shot by the police. Inspired by the attacker, who had posted a similar photo of himself online before the terrorist attack he carried out, the 16-year-old posed in a camouflage T-shirt and with his index finger outstretched and raised towards the sky, the identifying symbol of IS. With his other hand he presented the drawn combat knife, with a signet ring of the Prophet Mohammed on one finger. The 16-year-old was also wearing a gilet that was intended to appear as a dummy explosive belt.

  • More on the topic: Viennese terror suspect (16) wanted to be shot by the police
  • Terror suspect wanted to strike at the main train station

The young person, who is now in custody and is being investigated by the Vienna public prosecutor’s office for being a terrorist group and a criminal organization, recently stated in an interview with the accused that he had met the later attacker personally shortly after he was released from prison. The HTL student with North Macedonian roots wanted to join IS in Syria and was sentenced to 22 months in prison for this. The later attacker was released in December 2019. As the 16-year-old explained, shortly afterwards he and others met the then 20-year-old by chance in the Millennium City in Vienna-Brigittenau, and the later attacker told the group about his arrest and subsequent imprisonment.

Felt connected to IS since he was 14

This encounter must have made a lasting impression on the 13-year-old at the time. According to his description, the IS teenager has felt connected to IS since he was 14 years old. The Vienna attacker is his “role model.” The boy recently told the Vienna State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Combating Terrorism (LVT) that he also planned to get a firearm, but didn’t have enough money for a rifle. Therefore, a few weeks before September 2023, he went to a gun shop at a subway station with 500 euros to buy a Glock or a Beretta. However, the seller explained to him that he was too young for a pistol and that he would also need a gun passport.

He would have planned to carry out his attack “in exactly the same way” as the attacker on November 2, 2020, “if I had had the options, i.e. the weapons,” the 16-year-old emphasized to the Vienna LVT. Due to the lack of firearms, he then bought a field knife with a blade length of 16.5 centimeters from a shop for 20 euros. According to his recorded statement at the main train station, the IS teenager wanted to stab several people in the neck: “For me there should have been more than three or four victims. They shouldn’t just be injured, they should be killed. I wanted to show that People should fear Allah. While I was stabbing the people, I would have also called out Allahu Akbar (God is great, note) so that everyone would know why they are dying. Through this killing I will go to paradise, it is very beautiful there and I’m escaping the argument with my father.” The IS supporter noted that he had “no anger at people in general, but police officers, soldiers and homosexuals should die.”

Depressing living situation

The 16-year-old grew up in Vienna as the youngest child in a family with Turkish roots. His mother died when he was six years old. The boy attended a special needs school, which he graduated in the summer of 2023. He was then registered with the AMS as looking for work. According to him, he had no friends and was bullied at school. Once he even had to be taken to hospital with a head injury after a classmate threw him against an iron bar.

In this depressing life situation, the young person found Islam. He began praying five times a day and gave up alcohol and nicotine for religious reasons. He ultimately visited a mosque in Vienna-Meidling every week, which was raided immediately after the attack on November 2, 2020 and which was then temporarily closed. The Vienna attacker also frequented this mosque and may have become radicalized there.

Father fought against the strict religious tendencies in vain

The 16-year-old’s father countered his son’s increasingly strict religious tendencies. He forbade him to roll up his trousers above his ankles and to have a beard. When the boy didn’t respond to the latter, he even shaved off his beard. The father also forbade the young person to visit the mosque in Meidling. A Koran teacher who worked there is said to have visited him in his apartment, as the father reported to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in a witness interview: the mosque representative explained to him that he wanted to “help” his son because he “can read the Koran well”. The father stated that he had expelled the visitor from the apartment because he was obviously “not good company for my son,” referring to the visitor’s “shaggy beard” and “inappropriate” clothing, according to the written interrogation report.

By this time, however, the 16-year-old was likely to have had an advanced radical Islamist attitude and had also shown this in his school, as recent cell phone evaluations show. On February 20, 2023, he shared IS propaganda videos in a WhatsApp group created for his school class. On May 7, he sent a classmate a battle song by the German-Moroccan extreme Salafist Monir Chouka. And on July 7, he distributed three photographs that had apparently been taken in the classroom. They show the grinning 16-year-old with his right index finger raised in front of the school blackboard, on which the IS logo and IS symbols are drawn in chalk.

Teachers and school management clueless until the arrest

Neither the teachers nor the school administration had any idea of ​​the boy’s beliefs until he was arrested. The fact that he appeared in class in 2022 with a knife, for which he was suspended from class for two weeks, was attributed to his difficulties with classmates. Until his arrest, the young person had not been flagged by the police or noticed as a potential threat. However, a teacher later remembered a school trip to Schneeberg: When church bells rang in the valley, the 16-year-old took a prayer rug out of his backpack and insisted on doing his duty to pray.

“An inner voice said not to do that”

It is still unclear what caused the young person to leave the main train station without picking up the knife clipped to his hip. He had originally stated that he had not carried out his plan out of fear, arguing that he had feared that he would survive the attack and be arrested instead of going to paradise as a martyr. Finally, the young person said that “an inner voice somehow told him not to do that.” However, the fact that he had forgotten an object in the apartment that was part of his plan may also have played a role: According to him, the IS supporter initially wanted to throw a firecracker into the crowd and stab people in the excitement it caused. He had left the pyrotechnic item at home.

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