Fourteen people were arrested in Austria on Thursday as some 800 police investigating possible members of the jihadist group Islamic State carried out raids in Vienna and Graz, authorities said.
The raids however were not related to the arrest in Vienna last week of a 17-year-old suspected Islamist extremist, and investigators did not believe a terror attack was imminent, reports said.
Eight men were initially detained, including three Austrians "with a migration background", two Bosnians, a Syrian, a Bulgarian and a Macedonian, all aged between 21 and 49, a spokesman said. Four of the arrests were in Vienna and four in Graz.
A further three men and three women from the Balkans were later also arrested in Graz. Two of the women are wives of the male suspects, prosecutors said. Up to three Salafist hate preachers were among those arrested, whose ages range from 21 to 49.
Media reports said that as well as apartments, police also raided unofficial mosques, mostly in Graz. They also said the operation targeted individuals from the former Yugoslavia suspected of establishing a jihadist network in Austria.
The Kronen Zeitung tabloid reported that the raids focused on the network of a Muslim preacher from Bosnia who was jailed for 20 years last July in Graz for recruiting young fighters to the Islamic State group.
He was convicted last July for the promotion of jihad and the recruitment of more than 160 fighters for ISIS in Syria, and a bomb-making guide was found on his computer. Numerous speeches about jihad and extremism were uploaded to the internet, and the prosecutor’s office alleges he told a fellow extremist that "the blonde mouse, the Austrian, should be torn apart like a bag of crisps".
Two teens who were brainwashed to join barbaric ISIS in 2014, 17-year-old Samra Kesinovic and her schoolfriend Sabina Selimovic, 15, were the group's “pin-up poster girls” for jihad. Samra, one of the teenagers he recruited, is widely believed to have been killed by ISIS. She reportedly tried to escape several times after being passed around as a sex slave, a former prisoner claimed.
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