Austria’s jihadis – another day late and euro short
… embracing political correctness and liberal delusions of multiculturalism have overshadowed any inkling of common sense in safeguarding domestic interests. The wake-up call may be too late.
It was reported last week that Austrian authorities arrested a group of Chechen immigrants on suspicion of planning to join Islamist militant groups in Syria. A Gatestone Institute article, Austria: Springboard for Global Jihad by Soeren Kern indicates:
The Austrian government has announced plans to improve its intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities in an urgent effort to crack down on would-be jihadists in the country.
The decision by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner to recruit 20 new intelligence officers to focus exclusively on the threat posed by radical Islam comes after police in Austria arrested nine Chechen immigrants who were on their way to wage jihad in Syria.
The move also comes amid growing concerns that Austria’s shiftless Muslim youth are becoming increasingly radicalized and vocal in their support of the jihadist group Islamic State.
The Chechens—eight men and one woman, ranging in age from 17 to 32—were purportedly planning to travel to Syria over a land route that would take them from Austria through the neighboring Balkans and on into Turkey. Four of the individuals were arrested in the southeastern Austrian province of Styria, and five others were detained in the province of Carinthia. Both provinces border Slovenia.
According to an analysis published by the newspaper Der Standard, Austria has emerged as a central hub for jihadists seeking to fight in Syria because Austria’s geographic location provides easy access to land routes through the Balkans.
Austrian intelligence officials say that most of the 130 Austrians who are thought to have travelled to Syria are Chechens. The rest are immigrants from Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey. Approximately 60 Austrian jihadists are currently on the front lines, 50 have already returned to Austria and 20 have been killed in action.
Austria’s concerns are also focused on returning jihadists. In a June 2014 report (translation from Gatestone), the Austrian intelligence agency BVT states:
When fighters return from the warzone, their newly acquired combat skills, traumatic experiences and changes in behavior, plus the possibility that they have become highly radicalized, represent a considerable security risk for Austria. Those who return could become involved in proselytizing activities as well as in establishing new radical centers in which they could serve as instructors. Potential terrorist attacks could be perpetrated by so-called lone wolves but also by organized terrorist groups.
The Gatestone article further cites from the BVT report:
The number of young radicalized followers of violent Salafism in Austria continues to rise. In this context, the conflict in Syria is of urgent relevance for Austria, because systematic efforts are being made within Austria to radicalize and recruit people for the war in Syria.
The conflict in Syria has become very popular among violent extremist Salafists in Austria. The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist.
So-called hate preachers can have a decisive influence on the radicalization and recruiting processes by means of ideological and personal indoctrination. Jihad is offered as the only adequate means to solving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims. In Austria, this targeted manipulation is achieved through conspiratorial performances by charismatic leaders. Young Muslims, who are seeking alternative perspectives due to life crises, are often submissive victims to these ‘radicalizers’ and ‘recruiters’ and are often fascinated by the prospect of armed jihad.
Austrian concern over Salafism with young Muslims is apparently compounded by the increasing Muslim enrollment in public schools – a pattern that is being reflected in many European countries. According to Kern:
Muslim students already outnumber Roman Catholic students at middle and secondary schools in Vienna, the capital and largest city of Austria, according to statistics compiled by the Vienna Board of Education (Stadtschulrat für Wien) and published by Radio Vatican website in March 2014.
The data—which show that Muslim students are also on the verge of overtaking Catholics in Viennese elementary schools—reflect an established trend and provide empirical evidence of a massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country.
In the current school year, 10,734 Muslim students are enrolled in Viennese middle and secondary schools, compared to 8,632 Roman Catholic students, 4,259 Serbian Orthodox students and 3,219 students with “no religious persuasion,” the data shows.
As far as elementary schools are concerned, there are 23,807 Roman Catholic students, followed by 17,913 Muslim students, 11,119 “non-religious” students, 6,083 Serbian Orthodox students and 2,322 Protestants.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: As with the U.K., Austrian officials have been well aware of the domestic threats Islamists pose for some time with very little proactive actions to date. Unfortunately, embracing political correctness and liberal delusions of multiculturalism have overshadowed any inkling of common sense in safeguarding domestic interests. The wake-up call may be too late. Another example: France