Vienna shooter duped officials by saying ‘attending the wrong mosque’ led him astray

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The Vienna gunman Kujtim Fejzulai duped officials in a 2019 trial by saying he had been led astray by the ‘wrong mosque’ and had renounced his ISIS ideals. 

Fejzulai, 20, was jailed in April 2019 because he wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS but he was granted early release in December under juvenile law. 

The killer was not deemed capable of carrying out an attack, according to a report. 

At least one terrorist started shooting close to a synagogue in Vienna’s city centre as four were killed and 17 were injured at 8pm last night.

Police are reportedly investigating whether this man pictured is the Vienna killer, according to Austrian media. The caption pledges allegiance to the leader of ISIS Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi. Nehammer told APA that Fejzulai had posted a photo on his Instagram account before the attack that showed him with two of the weapons he apparently used

Shocking footage from Israeli TV showing a gunman carrying an AK-47 and handgun and shooting a person in the street near the start of the attack in Vienna

Shocking footage from Israeli TV showing a gunman carrying an AK-47 and handgun and shooting a person in the street near the start of the attack in Vienna

Armed with an automatic rifle, pistol and machete, Fejzulai was ‘neutralised’ at 8.09pm after marauding through the streets wearing a fake explosives belt.   

Fejzulai made it all the way to an ISIS safe house on the Turkish border with Syria last year before he was stopped by local police.

It emerged in Fejzulai’s trial in April, 2019, during which he said that he had ‘got into the wrong mosque’ in 2016.

He said in the trial he did not feel disadvantaged growing up and began studying Islam in the middle of puberty.

GUNFIRE HEARD IN SIX AREAS WITHIN A FEW HUNDRED YARDS: Gunman armed with automatic rifle, pistol and machete who was wearing a fake explosives belt was 'neutralised' at 8.09pm, around ten minutes after the shooting started, according to the chief of police

GUNFIRE HEARD IN SIX AREAS WITHIN A FEW HUNDRED YARDS: Gunman armed with automatic rifle, pistol and machete who was wearing a fake explosives belt was ‘neutralised’ at 8.09pm, around ten minutes after the shooting started, according to the chief of police

A bloody footprint is visible on medical equipment after multiple shootings in the first district of Vienna last night

A bloody footprint is visible on medical equipment after multiple shootings in the first district of Vienna last night

Asked why he had tried to join IS, the Austrian-born terrorist told the judge: ‘I wanted to get away from home. I expected a better life. 

‘My own apartment, my own income.’ 

But he had earned enough through his summer job in 2018 to buy plane tickets to Kabul where he had arranged to meet ISIS contacts.

It was only after buying the ticket that Fejzulai realised he needed a visa to travel to Afghanistan.

On September 1, 2019, Fejzulai arrived in Syria alone. He spent two days in a ‘rat hole,’ his lawyer told the court, with ‘no shower, no toilet, [and] no running water’.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Vienna on Tuesday morning following the attack. He said: 'It was an attack out of hatred - hatred for our fundamental values, hatred for our way of life, hatred for our democracy in which all people have equal rights and dignity'

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Vienna on Tuesday morning following the attack. He said: ‘It was an attack out of hatred – hatred for our fundamental values, hatred for our way of life, hatred for our democracy in which all people have equal rights and dignity’

Police control a person as they patrol in central Vienna on November 2, 2020, following a shooting near a synagogue

Police control a person as they patrol in central Vienna on November 2, 2020, following a shooting near a synagogue

Vienna police said in a Twitter post there had been "six different shooting locations" with "one deceased person" and "several injured", as well as "one suspect shot and killed by police officers"

Vienna police said in a Twitter post there had been ‘six different shooting locations’ with ‘one deceased person’ and ‘several injured’, as well as ‘one suspect shot and killed by police officers’

He was captured by police after two days and detained in Turkey for four months before being extradited back to Austria where he went under trial. 

His defence lawyer Rudolf Mayer told the court Fejzulai had denounced his IS ideals after his arrest.

He said: ‘How can I change the ideology of a suicide bomber? Not with high fines. You have to change your mind.

‘If [Fejzulai] had not attended a mosque but a Kung Fu school, [he] would have gone to Tibet and become Shaolin monks.’ 

Despite facing between one and ten years imprisonment for membership in a criminal organisation and a terrorist organisation, he was given a reduced sentence of 22 months was granted early release from prison in December. 

Vienna police said in a Twitter post there had been "six different shooting locations" with "one deceased person" and "several injured"

Vienna police said in a Twitter post there had been ‘six different shooting locations’ with ‘one deceased person’ and ‘several injured’

Armed policemen stand guard in front of the main entrance of the State Opera in the center of Vienna this evening following the shootings

Armed policemen stand guard in front of the main entrance of the State Opera in the center of Vienna this evening following the shootings

Fejzulai was born and raised in Vienna and was one of 90 Austrian Islamic radicals known to intelligence because they wanted to travel to Syria, a national newspaper editor tweeted this morning.

He had Albanian roots and his parents were originally from North Macedonia, Falter editor Florian Kenk wrote.

Police thought he was not capable of planning an attack in Vienna, Klenk added.

Nehammer told APA that Fejzulai had posted a photo on his Instagram account before the attack that showed him with two of the weapons he apparently used. 

‘(The suspect) was equipped with a fake explosive vest and and an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete to carry out this repugnant attack on innocent citizens,’ Nehammer said. 

Drinks left over stand on a table of a cafe near Stephansplatz in Vienna on Tuesday morning after the shooting attack

Drinks left over stand on a table of a cafe near Stephansplatz in Vienna on Tuesday morning after the shooting attack

A broken plate lies on the ground next to chairs and tables of a cafe near Stephansplatz in Vienna on Tuesday monring

Knocked over chairs in a central cafe this morning

A broken plate lies on the ground next to chairs and tables of a cafe near Stephansplatz in Vienna on Tuesday monring

One of the women killed in yesterday’s attack was a waitress who died of gunshot wounds in hospital overnight and another, who was aged in her 40s, later died in the Ottakring Clinic, local reports said.

One of the male victims was discovered in the meat market, while another was found gravely wounded on Franz-Josefs-Kai, close to the Wien river.

A police officer was also shot and seriously injured. Seven of the 17 victims being treated in hospital are in a critical, life-threatening condition, according to Austrian news agency APA. 

According to Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, police are searching for more possible assailants who may still be at large, and several neighbouring countries have stepped up border checks.

‘It’s difficult for us at the moment to define whether the attack was carried out by one perpetrator or more than one,’ said Gerhard Puerstl of the Vienna police.

Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city. Police said trams and buses were not stopping and urged social media users not to post videos of the police operation

Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city. Police said trams and buses were not stopping and urged social media users not to post videos of the police operation

Heavily armed police officers who moved in last night as at least one gunman terrorised the Austrian capital

Heavily armed police officers who moved in last night as at least one gunman terrorised the Austrian capital

The shooting erupted just hours before Austria was to re-impose a coronavirus lockdown, with people out in bars and restaurants enjoying a final night out.

Austria had until now been spared the sort of major attacks that have hit other European countries, but Monday’s shooting followed a spate of Islamist attacks in France and it triggered an outpouring of solidarity from world leaders. 

The shocked nation began three days of mourning after what Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a ‘repulsive terror attack’.

Across the country, flags have been lowered to half mast on public buildings and people observed a minute of silence at noon as church bells rang out.

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