Austria foils attempt to attack Vienna Christmas market

Austrian authorities arrest three men who plotted a series of terror attacks, including a bombing at one of Vienna's Christmas markets.

Elad Benari ,

Vienna
Vienna
iStock

Austrian authorities have foiled a plot to carry out a series of terror attacks, including a bombing at one of Vienna's Christmas markets, AFP reported Monday, citing local media.

The plot involved three men, including a 24-year-old ringleader who had been influenced by the ideology of the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, according to the APA news agency.

The main suspect is thought to have hatched a plot to target the Christmas market in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna city center between Christmas and New Year.

Other possible targets are said to have included Salzburg and locations in Germany, France and Luxembourg.

An anonymous tip-off led to the ringleader, who was already in jail following two attempts to reach Syria and join ISIS, according to AFP.

However, the report said he was able to remain in contact with his alleged accomplices via mobile phone -- contrary to prison regulations. Part of the plot was a plan to help the ringleader escape.

The two other suspects, aged 25 and 31, were taken into custody at the end of last week. All three men are ethnic Chechens.

Austria has been spared the major terror attacks that have hit other European countries including France, Britain and Germany in recent years, but a relatively high number of Austrians have gone abroad to participate in Islamic extremism.

Facing the challenges of Austrians travelling to the Middle East to join jihadist groups, Austria's parliament in February of 2015 passed a law banning foreign sources of financing to Muslim organizations and requiring imams to be able to speak German.

In June of that year, an Austrian court convicted nine people of Chechen origin who were arrested on their way to join Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists together with their Turkish driver.

In January of 2017, Austrian armed commandos arrested a man suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Vienna, police said.




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