Police in Germany raided the homes and businesses of four men suspected to have links to the gunman who opened fire in Vienna on Monday in what has been called an “Islamist terror attack,” numerous sources reported.
German police raided sites in Osnabrueck, Kassel and the Pinneberg area that belonged to the men. Although they are not believed to have helped carry out the deadly attack, there was evidence that they have links with Kujtim Fejzulai, the 20-year-old gunman, the Associated Press reported.
Fejzulai was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 after trying to join ISIS in Syria, but was released early in December. He also had North Macedonian citizenship and was born to ethnic Albanians, the Wall Street Journal reported. He was shot dead by police after the attack that left four dead and 14 injured.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said Fejzulai was possibly linked to a radical Islamist network that extended to Switzerland and another country that he did not name, according to Deutsche Welle. Two of Fejzulai’s acquaintances were detained near Zurich, Swiss federal police said Thursday, according to Deutsche Welle. The acquaintances were reportedly ages 18 and 24.
Austrian authorities have searched 18 homes and detained 15 people in connection with the attack, four of which had previous terror-related convictions. Several others had criminal records, according to Euro News.
An investigation was launched into why Austria had not observed Fejzulai as a security risk earlier when officials were notified by Slovakian authorities that he had tried to purchase assault rifle ammunition in Bratislava in July, according to the AP. Austrian security services had been monitoring Fejzulai for posting extremist content on the internet before and after serving his terrorism sentence, an Austrian security official said Tuesday, according to the Journal.
The attack occurred roughly a week after a Tunisian migrant is alleged to have killed three people at a church in France, where multiple Islamist terror attacks have recently taken place. Among the attacks was the beheading of a teacher who was targeted after showing students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson on freedom of speech.
Austrian officials ordered the closure of “radical mosques” in the country Friday, Reuters reported. France had also taken a similar step after an Islamist radical killed the teacher in October, ordering the closure of a mosque in a suburb northeast of Paris while also raiding the homes of suspected Islamic radicals and investigating 51 French Muslim organizations for potentially promoting hatred.
Due to the spate of terror attacks throughout Europe, the U.K. raised its terror threat level to “severe” on Tuesday after determining that a potential attack is highly likely. (RELATED: UK Raises Terror Threat Level To ‘Severe’ After Determining Possible Attack Is Highly Likely)