Before the major terror trial surrounding the October 18 assassination attempt in Vienna, a close friend of the gunman had to sit in the dock at the Vienna regional court on Wednesday. It is said to have been an “ideological leadership position” for the killer – as well as for many others.
“His goal is to become THE new radical Islamic preacher,” the prosecutor said at the start of the trial. It commemorates the beginnings, the crimes and the rise of IS. In the course of the investigation into the terrorist attack in central Vienna on November 2, 2020, the 24-year-old suspect was arrested as an IS member. His apartment was stormed by WEGA a day after the killing.
Islam class in university clinic
And it is precisely this apartment in St. Pölten that is said to be the center of his crimes, according to the indictment. As early as 2019, he is said to have started teaching Islam in the prayer room of the University Hospital St. Pölten – including tests for his students. He was later banned from doing so because the lessons would have become too radical. “To continue, he rented the apartment,” the prosecutor explained.
Viennese killer radicalized
And there he met the Viennese killer. The young man attended the accused’s “Sunday meetings”. They exchanged views on IS and Sharia. The 24-year-old is said to have contributed to the radicalization of the later shooter: “Such people drive others to terrible actions, like the murderer in Vienna!”, the prosecutor accused. It remains to be seen whether the suspect has anything to do with the murder. Investigations are said to be underway.
According to the indictment, he also translated and distributed several jihadist books. He is also said to have spread propaganda on various social platforms. His lawyer Sascha Flatz does not mind: “He posted about IS propaganda. Then the ORF would no longer be allowed to report on this propaganda.”
The suspect therefore pleads not guilty. According to the 24-year-old and his lawyer, the “Sunday meetings” and sermons should not have gone in a radical direction. He just wants his religion to be talked about and the principles taught. “My client is certainly not guilty of the terror clause,” said Sascha Flatz.
Just wanted to tell something about Islam
He is only a practicing Muslim: “In 2016 I dealt with the questions of life, the meaning of life and then came to Islam,” said the suspect. He also wanted to bring this closer to other people, organized “information stands” in Vienna and St. Pölten, started teaching in the hospital and later in his apartment. “That’s a truth for me. I wanted to explain Islam to people and educate them about prejudice,” he says, describing his motivation.
Apartment rented only for Arabic lessons
After he was not allowed to continue the meetings in the prayer room of the university clinic, he rented the apartment in St. Pölten – it is one of the focal points of the process. “My friends said we can’t teach here anymore, let’s do it with you!” says the 24-year-old. “So the main purpose wasn’t to live there?” the judge asked. The suspect lived with his parents until his arrest. “The idea was that young people from St. Pölten could meet in the apartment, exchange ideas and chill,” says the man. There he also met the Viennese killer.
Only prayers and no sermons
He only learned Arabic and a little faith. A Viennese then came to one of the “Sunday meetings” and gave radical Islamic lectures for the first time. But the suspect only wants to pray: “There were Friday prayers, but I didn’t necessarily preach.” There were only readings from the Viennese, whose name the 24-year-old did not want to mention, the accused said.
When the judge asked if he’d been okay with that, he could have been kicked out, but he said he wouldn’t have had a problem with it. However, he would not have taken it as close to IS either: “The content was essentially good and not radical!”
The trial continues on Thursday with witness hearings. A ruling is expected on Tuesday.
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.