‘Mistakes Were Made’ — Authorities Stopped Surveilling Vienna Attacker Over Summer, Report Says

(Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Austrian intelligence officials were aware of the threat posed by the Islamist who committed a terrorist attack in Vienna last week, but stopped surveillance of him over the summer, according to a new report released Monday. 

Authorities watched Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, meet with foreign Islamists in Vienna in July, Reuters reports, citing a Swiss news outlet. The killer, who murdered multiple people before being shot and killed by police the night of the attack, met with two Islamists in July who were later arrested in Switzerland. He also hosted multiple individuals who travelled to Austria from Germany while under observation by German authorities, per Reuters. (RELATED: European Police Conduct Widespread Raids Against Those Suspected Of ‘Hate Speech’)

Austrian authorities also previously admitted that they had bungled information about the assailant attempting to buy ammunition in Slovakia in July, Reuters says. Officials have acknowledged that “intolerable mistakes were made” in monitoring the gunman who was released from prison for trying to join ISIS in his recent past. (RELATED: Boris Johnson, Other World Leaders Congratulate Joe Biden And Kamala Harris On Winning Election)

Domestic intelligence operatives in Austria monitored Fejzulai for several days as he and some associates took their foreign visitors around Vienna, but the surveillance was inexplicably halted right before Fejzulai left for Slovakia, according to Reuters.

“A meeting took place in Vienna among the people… from Germany and Switzerland but there were also people present at the meeting with the later assailant who were arrested in the context of the investigation,” Director General for Public Security Franz Ruf said at a news conference. 

Criticism is mounting as European leaders grapple with increased tension between them and the Muslim world. French President Emmanuel Macron has faced significant backlash for comments made and actions taken after multiple terror attacks in France, and he even suggested the E.U. should reexamine its immigration policies.

“New disturbing failures come in almost by the hour,” Stephanie Krisper, a lawmaker from the opposition Neos party, said regarding Austria. The leader of Austria’s primary domestic intelligence agency has temporarily stepped aside pending an investigation, per Reuters.