Shooting in Vienna: Police investigate if the gunman seems to have links to ISIS

Five people, including the gunman, died on Tuesday and 17 others were wounded in a shooting in Vienna hours before the Covid lockdown began, Austrian authorities said.

An inquiry is being undertaken by Austrian police into whether the attacker was a part of a larger network and whether the assault might have been forestalled.

The 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai had dual Austrian and North Macedonian citizenship. As a member of the Islamic State party, which claimed responsibility for the killings, he was known to the police.

In July, Fejzulai visited neighbouring Slovakia and thought he was accompanied by another man, where he tried to buy an AK 47 gun, but due to the lack of a firearms licence, he failed to buy it.

The shooting kicked off around 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) Monday near the synagogue in Vienna. At that time, the place of worship was closed and empty. The terror attack witnesses said the gunman had randomly shot into bars and bistros crowded during the dinner hour. The gunman was shot on time by the police.

On Tuesday, the police in Austria searched about 18 properties related to the assailant and made 14 arrests. In addition , two men were detained in Winterthur, Switzerland, near Zurich, after rumours emerged that Fejzulai had met them in Switzerland.

Karl Nehammer, Austrian Minister of the Interior, said that Fejzulai had been sentenced on 25 April 2019 to 22 months in Austrian prison for his link with the terrorist group.

He is thought to have spent time at a mosque in the Ottakring district of Vienna when the Vienna shooter was a teenager. His parole was suspended a year ago in December on condition that he will be routinely supervised by probation services and engage in a de-radicalization programme.

Both Karl Nehammer and the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, reproached him for his early release from prison. Nehammer said Fejzulai was able to fool his mentors that no early warning flags of his radical psychology were registered by them. He said that it showed “a disadvantage in our system” that gave a radicalised person an untimely release.

The Green Party’s Minister of Justice, Alma Zadić, endorsed the decision , saying it was valid and that he had been released on parole. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice later reported that it was not aware of Fejzulai’s attempts to buy ammunition in Slovakia, stating it would have been a good excuse to prosecute him.