Austrian police undertake massive crackdown against extremists; 30 suspects linked to Hamas, etc apprehended

Austrian police undertake massive crackdown against extremists; 30 suspects linked to Hamas, etc apprehended

Vienna: The terror attack in Austria happened almost a week ago, and security agencies have undertaken a massive crackdown against extremists. On Monday, Austrian agencies raided addresses linked to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and arrested over 30 suspects. During the raids, millions of euros in cash and documents were seized. Given the recent developments, European Council President Charles Michel and Senior French Minister Clement Beaune visited Austria and sources said they discussed on combating terrorism.   

In a terrorist attack last week, one terrorist, as well as five civilians, were killed, and as many as 17 were injured. The terrorist was identified as an affiliate of the terrorist organisation IS. Before Austria, France was subjected to three terrorist attacks in one month. A severe reaction emerged over the incidents that have occurred in succession. France, as well as Austria, indicated they would undertake comprehensive action against extremists and terrorists. The activity carried out by Austrian agencies on Monday is part of the crackdown.  

The Austrian police and anti-terrorist agency conducted more than 60 raids in 4 provinces under the Operation Luxor. The areas covered were Vienna, lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, where more than 900 police officials and soldiers participated in the raids. Styrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer informed that the objective behind the operation was to uproot extremists. Over 70 suspects are being interrogated while 30 have been arrested. The Austrian police have said the groups associated with or supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, are also being probed. Further, the Austrian officials stated that the suspects are accused of forming a terrorist association, financing terror and money laundering.  

Among the groups against which action has been initiated, Hamas is a group declared as a terrorist organisation by the European Union (EU). Also, the Muslim Brotherhood is considered an extremist organisation. Austria’s action against it is therefore noteworthy. European Council President Charles Michel and French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune arrived in Austria for a visit while the operation was still ongoing. Austrian media has reported that the visiting ministers discussed the fight against terrorism with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. During the talks, Kurz is said to have demanded a unified and extensive crackdown against extremism, calling it necessary.

In the meanwhile, Greek media reported that France and Greece had formed a special task force for combating terrorism. The task force is believed to have been handed the responsibility for the exchange of information from suspects, maintaining uniformity on their surveillance and other aspects. In a startling revelation a few days ago, a Greek journalist said during an interview that 600 IS terrorists were located in Greece.   

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