Austrian official: suspect potentially dangerous radical

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 11:54 AM
Austrian official: suspect potentially dangerous radical

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian police urged Vienna residents Monday to be on heightened alert for suspicious objects and activities as they hunted for possible associates of a suspected Islamic radical who they say might have been planning a bomb attack.

A minor was among those questioned. Briefing reporters along with other senior law enforcement representatives, Konrad Kogler, Austria's top security official, described him as a 12-year old who had been in contact with the main suspect arrested Friday in his Vienna apartment. Kogler said the child was under supervision, without going into details.

Amid the search for suspects, Vienna Deputy Police Chief Karl Mahrer told reporters that the Austrian capital would remain under increased security alert until police were satisfied that any threat of potential attacks was banished

"Look instead of looking away," he urged Vienna residents, calling on them to immediately report anything unusual that could be linked to a terrorist strike.

Separately, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told state broadcaster ORF that the arrested suspect — a 17-year-old male — has said he supports the Islamic State group. Sobotka described the suspect as having a "real communications network" and as someone with "weight" in radical circles.

At a subsequent news conference, Sobotka said "several connecting lines" existed between the youth and other potential suspects in Austria and in Germany. He said the teenager had a "Salafistic background," adding that any attack plans he might have had appeared to have been still in the planning stage.

A SWAT team made the arrest after what police said was a tip from a "foreign intelligence service." The youth was not identified due to Austrian privacy laws, but Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said the suspect is believed to be in contact with radical "Albanian-Islamist" circles.

Another suspect thought linked to the teenager arrested in Austria was in German custody after his detention Saturday.

German news agency dpa said law enforcement officials suspected the 21-year-old of helping the Austrian plan an attack and experimenting with making explosives in the German suspect's apartment in the city of Neuss. It cited them as saying, however, that no weapons or explosives were found in a search of his apartment at the time of his arrest.

Austrian authorities said after they detained their suspect that he may have been close to carrying out an attack, with the city's subway line a potential target.

Sobotka said there were no indications that he had "concrete" plans. But the decision to indefinitely increase the presence of Vienna police at train stations and other frequented areas indicated continued concerns about what Kogler described as a "potential danger situation."

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This story has been corrected to show that the minor's age was 12.