Vienna's head of anti-terror operations suspended

Head of anti-terror operations in Austrian capital suspended in wake of security lapses before Vienna terror attack.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Vienna terror attack
Vienna terror attack

The head of anti-terror operations in the Austrian capital Vienna was suspended on Friday as details emerged of further security lapses in the run up to this week's jihadist attack which left four people dead, AFP reports.

Erich Zwettler, the head of Vienna's anti-terror agency, had "asked to be suspended from his functions", Vienna police chief Gerhard Puerstl told a press conference.

The move follows further embarrassing revelations which came to light of missed opportunities to prevent the Vienna attack, in which a 20-year-old man who had previously been jailed in Austria for a terror offense opened fire on passersby with a Kalashnikov.

Zwettler's position became untenable in the light of "obvious and intolerable" failures, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Friday, after revealing that gunman Kujtim Fejzulai had been in contact with people who had been on the radar of the German intelligence agencies.

A tip-off from German intelligence about these meetings had apparently not lead to increased surveillance of Fejzulai, who at the time was following an Austrian de-radicalization program having been released early from jail.

Earlier this week, it came to light that Austrian intelligence officials had also been warned by their counterparts in neighboring Slovakia that Fejzulai had attempted to buy ammunition earlier this year.

Nehammer himself has come under pressure in the days since the attack with sharp criticism coming from opposition parties that the failures had taken place under his watch.

Meanwhile on Friday, the government ordered the closure of two mosques frequented by Fejzulai which had allegedly furthered his radicalization.

The dual Austrian-Macedonian, who was shot dead by police, had been convicted in April 2019 for trying to join the Islamic State group in Syria, but released early in December on probation.

Nehammer said earlier this week that Fejzulai had managed to "fool" the de-radicalization program, attendance of which had been a condition of his release.

Also on Friday, the Vienna prosecutor's department said that of the 16 people arrested in the wake of the attack, eight of them aged between 16 and 24, were suspected of "supporting the perpetrator in the run-up to attack" while another six had been released.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)