Kujtim Fejzulai Biography – Kujtim Fejzulai Wiki
Kujtim Fejzulai, was known to authorities and had been sentenced to 22 months in detention for trying to join the Islamic State
Looking out a window in Vienna’s main synagogue campus on Monday night, Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister watched a gunman shoot at customers in bars and restaurants in the city’s main nightlife district.
The footage rang out – dozens of volleyballs, maybe hundreds, not sure – sending people in panic to flee the streets and take shelter in the bars. Hofmeister said the attacker was following them inside. More gunfire followed.
At least five people were killed and 22 injured, including one attacker in the conflict. It was revealed when residents of the city enjoyed the last few hours of festivity before a new coronavirus lockout.
The incident also came at a time when extremist violence in Europe was on the rise, with four people killed in knife attacks in France last month. The United Kingdom raised the terrorist threat to “severe” as a “precautionary measure” on Tuesday.
However, terrorist attacks are extremely rare in Austria. The last major incident occurred at the Vienna airport in 1985.
Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, who was killed on Monday, is known to the authorities and was sentenced to 22 months in prison for attempting to join the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday. Fejzulai was released early from prison. The announcement will shed light on the country’s radicalization program, with Interior Minister Karl Nehammer accepting “loopholes” on Tuesday. The suspect said the system “tricked”.
Armed with an assault rifle, machete, and a false suicide belt, Fejzulai, a joint citizen of Austria and North Macedonia, waged a commotion for nine minutes until he was killed. During the initial upheaval, police reported multiple assailants, but security officials backed on Tuesday and said the videos posted from among the tens of thousands so far surveyed showed a single hitman.
“This is an attack where hatred for our core values, hatred for our lifestyle, hatred for our democracy, where all people are equal in rights and dignity,” Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz said at the morning press conference. Said. “But it is clear that we will not intimidate terrorists. It is a war between civilization and barbarism, and we will fight this war with all determination.”
Authorities said a total of 18 homes were searched with the weapons discovered and 14 preliminary arrests were made.
The Islamic State described Fejzulai as “the soldier of the caliphate” in a statement released Tuesday evening by the group’s Amaq News Agency. He named it nom d’guerre Abu Dujana al-Albani. Researcher Rajan Basra of the King’s College London Center for International Radicalization Studies said that Islamist militant forums had previously spread an image that they claimed belonged to Fejzulai. The picture showed a man with a beard holding a large knife, pistol and a Kalashnikov style rifle. This was accompanied by the promise made to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Kuraşi.
“This is obviously going to raise huge questions in Austria about why he was released early,” said Basra, who specializes in researching Islamist militants within criminal justice systems. Fejzulai was sentenced in April 2019, but was released by December that year.
He had set out to Syria in September 2018, according to news coverage of his trial. He made it to an Islamic State safe house in Turkey, but was detained there and spent four months in a Turkish jail. He and a co-defendant said they’d been ready to fight with the Islamic State, but a defense lawyer argued that they had renounced the group.
Fejzulai explained his radicalization by saying he’d gone to the “wrong mosque,” according to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper’s report at the time.
Deradicalization programs have been controversial across Europe, with debates sharpening after the fall of the Islamic State over the repatriation of thousands of Europeans who had traveled to the region. Charging returnees with crimes can be complicated.
While Austria’s deradicalization system is relatively new, the question of how to spot those faking it is Europe-wide, Basra said.
“Every country around Europe is facing that same issue,” he said, noting that radicalized individuals have convinced experts that they are reformed, or were taken advantage of, and pose less of a threat than they do.
Austrian security officials said the whole system needed to be evaluated. There is never “absolute certainty” that a person has been correctly assessed, said police President Gerhard Pürstl. While recent attacks in France carried out by new arrivals have put the focus on migrant routes, Fejzulai returns the focus on one of Europe’s more persistent issues: how to deal with homegrown radicalization.
The gunfire began around 8 p.m. Monday, in an area of the city center known as Vienna’s “Bermuda Triangle,” with a reputation for bars where one can disappear during a night of heavy drinking.
Hofmeister said he could not be sure about the number of shooters, but that he saw at least one attacker who seemed “professional.”
“He wasn’t shooting around randomly. It was very targeted and coordinated,” the rabbi said. Hofmeister called the police.
The rabbi said there was no indication that the synagogue was a target. The building was closed at the time, and there was no activity inside, whereas the streets outside in the Innere Stadt neighborhood were busy.
“We are here in a popular nightlife district, the nightlife district of the city,” he said. “It was a very warm evening, so a lot of people were out, and it was the evening before the lockdown.”
As midnight approached, the one suspect had been killed by law enforcement officers, but authorities said the situation remained active. Heavily armed officers swarmed the capital, blocking roads and searching vehicles. Medics set up a triage area to treat the wounded. Police urged residents to stay inside during the manhunt — and to stay home from work and school if possible Tuesday.
According to an initial law enforcement assessment, the shooting took place at six locations. But authorities said assessments were still being made and more details would be released later.
An old man, an old woman, a passerby teenager, and a waiter were killed “in cold blood” as Kurz was the hitman wandering the streets. He said fourteen people were injured, including a police officer who was among the civilians. That officer was in stable condition on Tuesday after surgery.
A 20-year-old Albanian Sara, who moved to Vienna a year ago, was drinking coffee recently. He heard gunshots but didn’t think it was “important,” he said. Sara said she was very afraid of her last name being published and the attackers were potentially still free.
“We thought it might be some stupid guy shooting at someone or fighting in the street,” he said.
Then people started running. They moved to another bar. “A man came running up to us and said it was a terrorist attack,” he said. And then we got scared. We saw the panic. We saw a girl running, injured. He was crying. “
Sara lives in an apartment in the area and said she had very little sleep. He said before Monday night that he thinks Vienna is “the safest city in the world”. We never expected that to happen. I do not know how we will return to our normal life from now on. “
Despite having some of Europe’s loosest gun ownership laws and a relatively high proportion of private gun ownership, mass shooting is rare in Austria. The first reports that a synagogue may have been attacked brought back memories of 1981, when Palestinian militants armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked the main synagogue and killed two people during a bar mitzvah ceremony.
President Trump described Monday’s attack as “another vile act of terrorism in Europe”.
“These evil attacks against innocent people must stop. The U.S. stands with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorists, including radical Islamic terrorists,” he posted on Twitter.
Other world leaders expressed condolences. “Islamist terror is our common enemy,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement. In France, three knife attacks have been carried out within a month after the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Two people were stabbed outside the publication’s former offices in late September, and two weeks ago, a middle school teacher was beheaded. Last week, three people were killed in a church in Nice, in what French President Emmanuel Macron described as “Islamist terror.”
“We, the French, share the shock and sadness of the Austrians after an attack in Vienna,” he tweeted. “This is our Europe. Our enemies need to know who they are dealing with. We won’t give in to anything.”
It was a sentiment shared by Barbara Lovett, a 52-year-old opera singer manager who was an hour into watching a three-hour performance at the city’s opera house when the shooting started a half-mile away. It was only when she turned to her phone at 10 p.m., when the performance ended, that she realized what was happening. Police held the audience in the building.
Members of the orchestra began to play as they waited to be allowed to go home. “This is Vienna,” Lovett said, referencing a city famed for its opera and for producing classical composers such as Mozart, Strauss and Schubert. “We have to play music. That’s what we know.”
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