Islamic Extremist Plotting Christmas Market Attack in Austria Arrested
A 25-year-old Bosnian Islamic extremist was arrested Thursday in Graz, Austria after police discovered he was plotting to drive a vehicle through the city’s Christmas market, emulating the Berlin terror attack last year.
The 25-year-old migrant, who was living at a homeless shelter in the city, is said to have wanted to rent a vehicle and run it through the Christmas market to kill and injure as many people as possible, Kronen Zeitungreports.
Police were tipped off by other residents at the homeless shelter, who said the Bosnian watched a large number of videos of terror attacks using vehicles on a shared computer. He bragged to some that he would “do it, like in Berlin”.
On two separate occasions, workers at the shelter claim that he asked for advice on how to rent a vehicle. A copy of an Austrian paper featuring a cover showing the Nice terror attack was found in the Bosnian’s pocked when he was arrested by police.
While there is currently no evidence that the 25-year-old worked with anyone else to plot the attack, investigators say that he regularly attended a mosque associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Previously, he attended the now-closed Taqwa Mosque, which was shown to have links to the Islamic State.
Earlier this year, Austrian police conducted raids in Graz and Vienna and arrested 14 people, including several Islamic preachers, who authorities say were plotting to overthrow the government and install an Islamic caliphate in its place.
Since the Berlin terror attack last year, Christmas markets have become targets for Islamic extremists and Islamic State supporters, which has forced governments to erect barricades — often dresssed up as decorations — to protect them.
Last month, six Islamic State supporters across Germany were arrested for plotting Christmas market attacks. All of those arrested had come into the country posing as asylum seekers, according to investigators.
Last week, a package containing explosive materials was found near the Christmas market in Potsdam, forcing the area to be evacuated. Police later claimed that the market was not the intended target for the device, however.