Austria Intel: 270 Islamists Under Observation

A new report from the Austrian Interior Ministry reveals that 270 jihadists are under observation after travelling to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State.

Answering a request for information from anti mass-migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) MP Petra Steger, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka revealed that the number of Islamists under domestic surveillance totalled over 270 people.

Of the 270 he said that 127, close to half, were under the age of 25, reports Kronen Zeitung.  This echoes the recent problems German security services have experienced with young radicalised Salafist Muslims, such as the two teenagers who bombed a Sikh temple in Essen earlier this year.

The FPÖ has long criticised the Austrian coalition government over its inability to root out Islamic State fighters among migrants, and its failure to keep track of Austrian citizens who have travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight for Islamic State and later return.

The populist party maintains that the government does not keep complete statistics on potential terrorists.  This was more or less confirmed by Interior Minister Sobotka, who claimed that, due to maintaining the secrecy of ongoing investigations, he could not confirm the exact figure of potential Islamic State fighters who were in the country.

Several high-profile cases involving Islamic State sympathisers and returning fighters have taken place in Austrian courts leading to several being sentenced.

At the start of June in Salzburg a 28-year-old Syrian migrant was sentenced to two years in prison. The court heard the case in which the jihadist was accused of being a member of the Al-Nusra Front, the militaristic wing of Al Qaeda in Syria and one of the largest rebel groups next to Islamic State in the war torn country.

Photographs and comments made on social media sites were presented to the judge who ruled that the man had been involved in fighting for the terror group.

Facebook and Twitter have become favourite platforms for terrorists.  Earlier this week the jihadist who murdered a police officer and his wife posted a video to Facebook declaring his allegiance to Islamic State shortly before being gunned down by a French SWAT team.

Graz regional courts also saw the conviction of two Syrian migrants who fought for Islamic State in Syria and were sentenced to four years in prison. The pair, who are brothers, are said to have come to the country as underage migrants. The eldest of the two, who is 19, fought actively on the front lines in Syria while his 16-year-old brother was a police officer enforcing sharia law among the occupied population.


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