By Ekaterina Blinova /Sputnik News/ – On 2 November, a number of gunmen went on a shooting spree in six locations throughout Austria’s capital Vienna, killing five and injuring at least 17 more. International observers have explained the difference between this and last week’s attacks in Nice and discussed the problem of Islamic radicalisation in Europe.
The gruesome attack began near Vienna’s main synagogue, Seitenstettengasse Temple, at around 7pm (GMT) on 2 November, just hours before new coronavirus restrictions took effect in the country. One of the gunmen was shot dead by the police and two were reportedly arrested.
“It was a serious terrorist attack the like of which we have not seen for many years. Four civilians have been killed, one criminal killed, it took nine minutes to neutralise a heavily armed criminal,” said Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer on Tuesday.
The Vienna shooting followed hot on the heels of a stabbing attack in Nice, France, on 29 October.
Vienna Attack Differs from ‘Lone Wolf’ Assaults in France
“The response to the gunman is typical”, says Dr Binoy Kampmark, senior lecturer from RMIT University in Melbourne. “The ‘trigger’ for radicalised conduct is always what authorities struggle to understand, which makes it impossible to conduct a pre-emptive arrest. The lone wolf terrorist principle, however flawed it is, suggests that such a figure will be inspired to undertake an act of martyrdom in the name of religion to pursue a goal. The problem is, when to apprehend the individual?”
Though the Vienna assault also has all the hallmarks of an Islamist-inspired terror act, it is not a “lone wolf”-style attack, as were the attacks that took place in France in October, as Ali Rizk, a political analyst specialising in Middle Eastern affairs, emphasises.
“The terrorist attack in Vienna clearly was a co-ordinated attack as there were crime scenes in six different locations with multiple gunmen participating,” Rizk says. “[It] resembles those which took place in Paris in 2015, Brussels in 2016, and Mumbai in 2008 – in that there were multiple perpetrators in different locations”.
Rizk does not rule out that Daesh* could be somehow linked to the Vienna attacks as the police found evidence that one of the perpetrators sympathised with the terrorist organisation. At the same time, the Austrian interior minister made reference to “at least one Islamist terrorist”. In addition to this, the participation of several gunmen “also fits in with the terrorist attacks [Daesh] perpetrated in Paris and Brussels, in that multiple perpetrators were involved”, the Middle East expert adds.
“It appears at this stage to be a planned attack”, says James O’Neill, an Australia-based barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. “The perpetrators are assumed to be Muslim radicals, but at this time that is unconfirmed. Similarly, no group has as yet claimed responsibility so far as I am aware”.
The Austrian authorities revealed that the attacker shot dead by the police was a 20-year-old with dual Macedonian and Austrian citizenship who had a criminal record related to terrorist activity. According to Nehammer, the assailant wore a fake explosive belt and was armed with an automatic rifle, a handgun, and a machete. As German newspaper Bild reported on Tuesday, the culprit earlier announced the attack on Instagram and pledged allegiance to Daesh leader Abdullah Qardash.
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