Posted on November 4, 2020

Nobody Thought Vienna Attacker Was Capable of This, Says His Former Lawyer

Denise Hruby et al., CNN, November 4, 2020

The gunman who carried out a deadly terror attack in the Austrian capital, Vienna, “was a lost soul” who did not appear capable of such an act, a lawyer who represented him said Wednesday.

Authorities have identified the attacker as Fejzulai Kujtim, a 20-year-old Austrian man from the town of St. Poelten, 33 miles west of Vienna and the capital of Niederoesterreich state. He was shot dead by police responding to Monday evening’s attack.

At least four people were killed and a further 22 were injured, including a police officer who is now in stable condition after surgery, in the attack Monday across six locations in the city.

Kujtim was sentenced to 22 months in prison on April 25, 2019 for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told state news agency APA. On December 5, he was released early on parole, the agency reported.

Lawyer Nikolaus Rast, who represented Kujtim in 2019, told CNN that he had seemed “quiet, rather introvert” at the time.


“Nobody would have thought him capable of something like this, not to mention suspecting it, otherwise something would have been done much earlier, because in principle we have a relatively well-functioning system in place in Austria.”

A statement Wednesday from Austria’s deradicalization association, DERAD, said Kujtim would have been released from prison in July 2020 even if he hadn’t been released on probation and ordered to participate in its program.

Kujtim was wearing a fake explosive belt at the time of the attack, according to Nehammer, and had been “radicalized.”


Nehammer told a news conference earlier Tuesday that 14 suspects had been provisionally arrested following 18 house searches in Vienna and Niederoesterreich.

There are no indications of a second perpetrator for the time being, the interior minister said.


Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz told CNN in an interview Tuesday that his country was not only looking to combat terrorists, but also the ideology behind them.


Kurz confirmed the gunman was born in Austria and had a family background from Northern Macedonia. “What we know is that he is a supporter of the Islamic State,” he said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday, calling the shooter “Abu Dujana Al-Albany” and claiming that he used two guns, including one machine gun, and a knife, in the assault, according to a statement posted on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.


Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig said shots appeared to be fired at random, as people dined and drank outside due to the warm weather and virus concerns.

Following reports of gunshots, armed police quickly swarmed the area, with helicopters and ambulances deployed. {snip}


Like many European countries, Austria experienced a surge in young radicalized Muslims trying to join ISIS in Syria between 2014 and 2017, before the terrorists’ self-declared caliphate collapsed.