By Nick Hallett
Austrian police have launched a mass raid on mosques and prayer
rooms in a crackdown on suspected jihadists who trying to radicalise
Nearly 500 officers raided religious centres in Vienna, Graz and Linz early today, detaining 13 people. Reuters reports that authorities also seized "terrorist propaganda material", illegal iron knuckles and cash.
The Austrian capital Vienna is increasingly being seen as major
centre for global jihad, with counter-terrorism analyst John R.
Schindler writing that Islamists are attracted to the country due to its "permissive laws and weak enforcement mechanisms".
Nine jihadis were arrested in August in the country for planning to
join ISIS, while the country's Federal Office for the Protection of the
Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT) warned in June:
"Religiously motivated extremism and terrorism – above all of Islamic
character – as well as Salafi-jihadi groups continue to present a great
potential threat…The number of young radicalized followers of violent
Salafism continues to rise.
"In this context, the conflict in Syria is of urgent relevance for
Austria, since systematic efforts are being made within [Austria] to
radicalize and recruit people for the war in Syria…The conflict in Syria
has become very popular among violent extremist Salafis.
"The spectrum of recruits to the conflict in Syria is broadly
ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, seems to be uniformly
People from the Balkans, especially Bosnia, constitute a high percentage of extremists in the country, the BVT added.