Following the arrest of a 17-year-old plotting a terror attack in Vienna, authorities have also arrested a boy they say is under 14 years old and is alleged to be a member of a terrorist cell.
While police have only said the underage suspect was below the age of 14, Austria’s largest daily newspaper Kronen Zeitung has reported that the boy is 12 years old.
The paper alleges the boy is originally from Macedonia and his home was raided by police on Sunday following allegations he has ties to the 17-year-old arrested over the weekend. Police say the older suspect was plotting to carry out a terror attack on behalf of Islamic State.
Investigators say the 12-year-old was not only in contact with the 17-year-old terror suspect but also had been radicalised by a Salafist “hate preacher” in Austria.
Director of public security in Austria Konrad Kogler claims the underage pair were in close contact and noted, “In this stage of life people are looking and are particularly susceptible to influence.”
The initial arrest of 17-year-old Lorenz K. made headlines across Austria over the weekend. Mr. Kogler said that the police were given information several days before the arrest which indicated the Albanian-born Lorenz K. was planning an attack. Police seized several computers and mobile phones which are still being analysed.
Once it was established the Albanian migrant had connections to other Islamic state sympathisers in the German city of Neuss, police contacted German authorities who arrested a 21-year-old man.
Christian Pilnacek, head of the Criminal Law Section in the Ministry of Justice, has said the 17-year-old terror suspect has likely been placed in solitary confinement where he will await a court date.
Lawyer for Lorenz. K., Wolfgang Blaschitz, claims the 17-year-old wasn’t an immediate danger to the Austrian public claiming, “We are a long way from bomb-building or an attack”.
Mr. Blaschitz, who has defended Islamic State fighters in the past, said, “His motivation was a political one. He has condemned the US and other states dropping bombs in Syria”. Several media outlets have said he was likely radicalised whilst in prison for assault between 2014 and 2015.
The trend of underage Muslims becoming radicalised and planning or attempting to commit terror acts on behalf of Islamic State is on the rise in Europe. In Germany, several attacks, like the stabbing of a policeman in Hanover last year, have occurred.