Left wing extremist offences have risen considerably in the last year according to Austrian officials who say that Islamic terror is still the most pressing danger.The new report, presented by the Austrian Federal Office for Constitutional Protection and Counterterrorism (BVT), shows that criminal offences involving left wing extremists rose 112 per cent in 2016.
A total of 383 offences were recorded by police compared to 186 in 2015 whilst there were 463 criminal reports opposed to 312 in 2015, Kronen Zeitung reports.
The BVT say 46.5 per cent of the cases involved left wing activists damaging campaign posters and other material of former anti-mass migration Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer during last year’s election campaign.
Other incidents have been much more violent such as the attack on the anti-mass migration Identitarian youth movement co-leader Martin Sellner at a Vienna metro station by members of the so-called “anti-fascist action” group. Sellner was forced to use a pepper spray gun on his attackers who subsequently fled after punching and kicking him.
Whilst the number of right wing offences, which included anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, and anti-Semitic incidents, numbered far greater at 1,313, the increase was much smaller at only 13.6 per cent. The increase in 2016 was lower than the increase in 2015, according to the report.
BVT director Peter Gridling said Islamic extremism was still the biggest security threat to the country. “As we have seen many times in Europe, religiously motivated Islamic extremism and terrorism is still the greatest threat to the security of democratic Western states,” he said.
“At the end of 2016, 296 people were known to us who were travelling from Austria to the Syrian or Iraqi regions, but we were able to prevent 51 from leaving the country. Ninety returned to Austria and 45 persons were killed in the fighting area. The rest are still abroad,” Gridling added.
Left wing extremism has also been on the rise in Germany where in certain areas like Berlin, they frequently clash with police. A study showed that most of the extremists were young men who overwhelmingly still lived with their parents and most had no job and no girlfriends.
Leipzig is another German city with a large left wing extremist scene. A report from anti-mass migration non-governmental organisation Einprozent claimed there had been 22 cases of left wing violence in the city in 2016.
Several of the attacks were aimed at the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany party which included the torching of several cars including then-leader of the party Frauke Petry.