Just days after revelations that Vienna is becoming a European hub for Jihadists on their way to Syria through the Balkans, a separate report reveals applications for gun permits in the Austrian capital are growing and there are now 85,000 registered weapons in the capital.
Speaking to local press, a native Viennese said she had been prompted to buy a gun after several of her neighbours had been the victims of crime. In Austria, gun laws are much less strict by the United Kingdom; many weapons that require a full licence from police can be purchased over the counter, such as pump-action shotguns and repeating rifles. Only weapons like handguns and semi-automatic rifles require a licence, and there were 460 new applications last year, reports theLocal.at.
Austrian law has provisions for gun-owners to hold a licence for self defence of people or property, however local police are clearly concerned about the prospect of widespread retribution attacks or vigilante gangs, as a spokesman said “We don’t want to see private armies with weapons. There are many situations in which having a gun can be a great disadvantage. We always recommend leaving any dangerous situation immediately and calling the police”.
State counter-terror experts raised the prospect of Vienna being an increasingly popular destination for Europe’s growing class of Jihadist fighters, as an official remarked “The conflict in Syria is attracting foreign fighters from all over Europe to Austria. The route to Syria is simple and safe”, starting in Vienna before proceeding through the Balkans.
As reports theLocal.at, an senior American analyst at the US Naval War College has recently said “for years, Vienna has served as the de facto base for Islamist extremists from Southeastern Europe, a place to recruit, raise and hide funds, and radicalize, thanks to Austria’s permissive laws and weak enforcement mechanisms. It’s an exceptional terrorist or Salafi radical in Bosnia who has not spent some time in Austria”.
Nine suspected Jihadists travelling through Austria were arrested last week.