One thousand police officers fanned out across the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday night, searching for the gunman who had killed five people and wounded at least seventeen more in what authorities had quickly deemed a terrorist attack.
The five victims had been shot and killed by the gunman, who was wielding a rifle and shooting up areas of the capital city on Monday night in a seemingly random pattern. The perpetrator, who was later shot and killed by police, was a 20-year-old man who had already been convicted for his part in a terrorist organization, according to Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer.
Fejzulal Kujtim, the attacker, had been sentenced to 22 months in prison on April 25, 2019 for his plans to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. However, the man was released on parole on December 5, 2019.
According to Austrian media reports, he was known to belong to approximately 90 Islamic State sympathizers who had planned to go to Syria to fight with them.
According to the Minister in an interview with Austrian news agency APA, he was born and raised in Vienna and was a citizen of both Austria and North Macedonia. He was shot by the police at 20:09 local time (21:09 Greek time), according to information given by Vienna police commander Gerhard Purstl.
The Austrian newspaper Falter stated in a report that the perpetrator had Albanian roots in North Macedonia. The editor of the paper, Florian Klenk, posted what he believed to be the gunman’s name on Twitter, adding the details regarding his Albanian and North Macedonian roots.
Kujtim had been wearing a belt that was made to look like an explosive belt but it was in fact nonfunctional. He used an automatic rifle to carry out the murders.
The perpetrator had even published photos of himself on Instagram, swearing his fealty to the terrorist organization and its current leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hassemi al-Quresi.
Media reports also say that Kujtim sent two videos depicting the earlier Charlie Held attack in Paris to two friends. At present, it is not known if he acted alone. Austrian police reports hint at a scenario in which he was working with four accomplices.
Austria has declared three days of mourning in remembrance of the four victims. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims, the injured and their families at this very difficult time for the Republic of Austria,” Austrian President Kurtz told reporters before going in to a cabinet meeting.
So far, a total of fifteen homes have been raided by the authorities in an effort to locate any possible accomplices or other pertinent information in the investigation. The border with Germany has been closed as a precaution, according to AFP.
Reports say that at least 20,000 videos showing the different attacks have been sent to the Austrian police. At this point, only 20% of these have been evaluated.
The latest reports from APA say that seven of the victims who had been wounded are in critical condition.
1/2 Ich habe nun ein paar Details zum Terroristen recherchiert. Er heisst Kurtin S., geboren 2000, wurde 20 Jahre alt und ist in Wien geboren und aufgewachsen und hat albanische Wurzeln. Seine Eltern stammen aus Nordmazedonien und sind in Sachen Islamismus unauffällig.
— Florian Klenk (@florianklenk) November 3, 2020
Thank you very much for your kind words of solidarity and support! This means a lot to us in these difficult times. #Austria will not be intimitated by such horrific acts of terror. Together we will defend our open societies and democratic values. https://t.co/5YhcFpxQGt
— Sebastian Kurz (@sebastiankurz) November 3, 2020