The Austrian domestic intelligence agency has warned law makers that there could be a hot bed of Islamic radicalisation developing in the region of Styria.
Director of the Federal Office for State Protection and Counter-terrorism (BVT), Peter Gridling is warning law makers in Austria not to overlook the growing number of Islamists being radicalized on Austrian soil. Austria’s domestic intelligence agency chief worries that in regions like Styria both home grown Islamists who have been radicalized as well as newcomers from Syria could pose a threat to Austria’s security in the future reports Kleine Zeitung.
According to Gridling part of the issues lies in the number of Austrian citizens who had left the country, or attempted to, and joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq over the course of the last few years. The total number as reported by the BVT has been 288 individuals who either made the trip, or tried to.
Many of those who fought with ISIS have since returned and pose a serious terror risk. The number of cases gone unreported could amount to even more.
Gridling pointed out three main hot spots for potential radicalisation in Austria. First was the capital of Vienna, which is home to a very large Turkish minority population.
Many of these Turks made headlines in the aftermath of the failed Turkey coup by going on the streets of the Austrian capital and declaring their support for Turkish President Recep Taytip Erdogan, a move that outraged many including several prominent politicians.
The other two regions mentioned by the BVK director were lower Austria and Styria. Both regions are in proximity to the capital but are not generally thought of as being at risk. Styria is a region of mostly small towns around the capital of Graz.
The Styrians bore the brunt of the migrant crisis however, due to their shared border with Slovenia, which may account for the origin of some Islamists.
Arrests of Islamic state fighters have heightened in recent months as authorities try and prevent future terror attacks. Recently a Syrian migrant man was caught in the German city of Leipzig after trying to bomb the town of Chemnitz.
The man was arrested and put in a cell but only days later he was found dead after he had hanged himself. The incident has led to criticism by many politicians on the handling of the case.
While the BVK chief notes that the number of people trying to join ISIS has declined he warns that men like the failed Chemnitz bomber could still be lurking under the radar ready to strike at any time.