Islamic State claims terrorist attack in Vienna

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claims that the terrorist who attacked in Vienna was a “soldier of the caliphate.”

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has released a statement and shared a video claiming responsibility for the terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria yesterday (Nov. 2). At least four people were killed and more than 20 others wounded.

Amaq identified the gunman by a kunya, Abu Dujana al-Albani, and described him as a “soldier of the caliphate.” In the video, the terrorist is shown brandishing a handgun, rifle and machete as he professes his allegiance to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the current leader of the Islamic State. His oath is the same one that has been rehearsed in videos released by Amaq after terrorist attacks around the globe.

Authorities in Austria have identified the assailant as a 20-year-old named Kujtim Fejzulai. According to officials cited by the Associated Press, Fejzulai was convicted of terrorism-related charges in 2019 after he tried to join the Islamic State in Syria. He was sentenced to nearly two years in prison, but released early in Dec. 2019.

“The fact is that the terrorist managed to deceive the judicial system’s deradicalization program” to get out of prison, Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said, according to the Associated Press. Austrian authorities describe Fejzulai as an “Islamist terrorist.”

Early reporting indicated that the attack took place near a synagogue, but it was reportedly closed at the time of the assault. It is not clear what specific target Fejzulai had in mind. As has been the case in the past terrorist operations, he was reportedly wearing a “fake explosive vest” during his assault. Fejzulai likely intended to use the bogus bomb as a deterrent, but he was shot and killed by the police.

Fejzulai also reportedly posted the menacing images of himself on social media before his moment of terror.

The footage posted by Amaq is similar to previous videos, in which individuals or small cells swear allegiance to the Islamic State’s overall emir before striking. The group rarely provides details concerning its ties to the terrorists featured in the videos, but authorities have discovered digital connections, at a minimum, after a number of instances. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: The Islamic State’s allegiance videos.]

The shootings in Vienna came shortly after small-scale attacks were carried out in France. Those incidents were not claimed by the Islamic State. The would-be caliphate’s Khorasan arm did claim responsibility for an assault on Kabul University, killing at least 19 people and wounding others in the Afghan capital. That massacre also took place yesterday.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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