Vienna shooter tried to join Islamic State in Syria

Kujtim Fejzulai shot dead four people Monday night in the Austrian capital before being killed by police.

al-monitor Flowers, candles and an Austria scarf are left at a memorial site at the scene of an attack in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 3, 2020, one day after a shooting at multiple locations across central Vienna. Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 3, 2020

The gunman who killed four people in Austria on Monday night was convicted last year on charges of trying to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The shooting took place near Vienna’s main synagogue in an area with many open restaurants and bars. The gunman, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, killed four people and injured 22 others before he was shot dead by police, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Fejzulai is a national of both Austria and North Macedonia. He attempted to join IS in Syria, for which he was convicted, according to the AP. He gained early release from prison late last year.

Austria’s interior minister said IS motivated the 20-year-old shooter. “We have experienced an attack by at least one Islamist terrorist,” said Karl Nehammer in a series of tweets Tuesday. “He was a sympathizer with the terror militia IS.” 

IS claimed the attack in a press release Tuesday. The group referred to the attacker as “Abu Dajana al-Albani.” North Macedonia has a significant Albanian population.

Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy policy center, tweeted material published by IS that showed the attacker armed with an assault rifle, a handgun and a long knife. The AP reported that Fejzulai used an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete in the attack.

IS swept through northern Iraq and Syria in 2014, capturing major cities such as Mosul. The group lost its territory in Iraq at the end of 2017 and its final Syrian territory fell in March 2019. Several Iraqi, Syrian and international militaries continue to fight IS. The group is still active, particularly in Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa.

Many foreigners joined or attempted to join IS, including from Europe.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings