Kujtim Fejzulai

Kujtim Fejzulai is an Austrian-North Macedonian dual citizen and ISIS sympathizer who carried out the November 2, 2020 shooting rampage in Vienna, Austria. The attack killed at least four and wounded over 22 others.Ruth Bender and William Boston, “Vienna Terrorist Attack: What Happened in Austria?,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vienna-terror-attack-what-happened-in-austria-11604363647.

Fejzulai was born in Austria to ethnic Albanian parents from North Macedonia. According to media reports, Fejzulai was allegedly radicalized in at the Melit Ibrahim mosque as a teenager and had been further radicalized by ISIS’s online propaganda.Bojan Pancevski, “Vienna Attack Probe Unearths Web of Islamic State Sympathizers,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vienna-attack-probe-focuses-on-shooters-associates-11604524044; Oliver Moody, “Vienna terrorist Kujtim Fejzulai, a football-crazed boy who became a cold-blooded gunman,” The Times, November 7, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/vienna-terrorist-kujtim-fejzulai-a-football-crazed-boy-who-became-a-cold-blooded-gunman-pmpjbpn99.

Fejzulai had previously been convicted for attempting to cross the Turkish border into Syria to join ISIS. In 2018, Fejzulai was arrested by Turkish authorities for suspicious behavior and was deported to Austria.Askin Kiyagan, “Austria was warned before terror attack in Vienna,” Anadolu Agency, November 4, 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/austria-was-warned-before-terror-attack-in-vienna/2032480. On April 25, 2019, Fejzulai was sentenced to 22 months in an Austrian prison. However, Fejzulai was released early in December 2019 on the condition that he would be regularly monitored by probation services and would participate in a deradicalization program.Kate Connolly, “Police investigate if Vienna attacker was part of wider network,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/04/police-investigate-if-vienna-attacker-was-part-of-wider-network.

In July 2020, Fejzulai is believed to have traveled to Slovakia with another man, where he attempted to buy ammunition but failed to produce the necessary firearms licenses.Kate Connolly, “Police investigate if Vienna attacker was part of wider network,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/04/police-investigate-if-vienna-attacker-was-part-of-wider-network. Slovakian authorities alerted Austrian officials regarding Fejzulai’s attempts to procure ammunition for his AK-47.Katrin Bennhold, Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze, “Vienna Reels From a Rare Terrorist Attack,” New York Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/03/world/europe/vienna-attack-shooter.html.

On the evening of November 2, 2020, Fejzulai, wearing a fake explosive vest and armed with an automatic rifle, a handgun, and a machete attacked Vienna’s city center, including areas busy with people in bars and restaurants as well as outside the Seitenstettengasse synagogue. The attack killed at least four and wounded at least 22 others before Fejzulai was killed by police nine minutes into the attack.Ruth Bender and William Boston, “Vienna Terrorist Attack: What Happened in Austria?,” Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vienna-terror-attack-what-happened-in-austria-11604363647; Michael Bachner, “At least 2 dead in ‘repulsive terror attack’ at multiple sites in Vienna,” Times of Israel, November 2, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/shots-fired-near-vienna-synagogue-prompting-massive-police-operation/.

The Austrian army deployed around Vienna to guard specific sites while police searched for additional attackers. Jewish communal leaders were uncertain if the synagogue, which was closed at the time of the attack, was a primary target. Police urged people to stay away from public spaces and transit, and also called on people not to share videos or photos of the attack on social media.Michael Bachner, “At least 2 dead in ‘repulsive terror attack’ at multiple sites in Vienna,” Times of Israel, November 2, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/shots-fired-near-vienna-synagogue-prompting-massive-police-operation/.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry labeled the assault a terror attack, which Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as “clearly an Islamic terror attack.” The attack began the night before Austria was set to begin a new coronavirus lockdown, with bars and restaurants closing for a month at midnight. Austria began three days of official mourning the day after the attack.Francois Murphy, “Austrian police arrest 14 in manhunt after gunman's deadly rampage,” Reuters, November 2, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/austria-attack-int/austrian-police-arrest-14-in-manhunt-after-gunmans-deadly-rampage-idUSKBN27I2P7; “Austria declares three days of national mourning after Vienna attack,” Brussels Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/world-all-news/138959/austria-declares-three-days-of-national-mourning-after-vienna-attack-shootout-manhunt-sebastian-kurz/#:~:text=The%20Austrian%20government%20declared%20three,shot%20dead%20by%20the%20police.

ISIS supporters on the encrypted messaging service Telegram praised the attack, and ISIS claimed responsibility the following day through its Amaq News Agency. Amaq circulated a picture of Fejzuai posing with weapons, whom they called “Abu Dagnah Al-Albany.” Austrian police determined Fejzulai was the lone gunman but arrested 14 additional individuals across the city suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization. Switzerland also arrested two alleged friends of Fejzulai.Francois Murphy, “Vienna gunman rampaged alone, intelligence was fumbled, minister says,” Reuters, November 4, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-austria-attack/video-evidence-confirms-lone-vienna-gunman-theory-minister-idUKKBN27K20G?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1689625_; Philipp Jenne and Geir Moulson, “Gunman who killed 4 in Vienna attack had sought to join IS,” Associated Press, November 3, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/vienna-shooter-tried-to-join-isis-53282a7da4f3a1903358b4b16d8a17a6; “Islamic State claims responsibility for Vienna attack,” Reuters, November 3, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-austria-attacks-claim/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-for-vienna-attack-idUSKBN27J2FE.

On October 18, 2022, six men went on trial in Vienna for allegedly assisting or influencing Fejzulai ahead of the November 2020 attack. The six defendants—between the ages of 22 and 32—include four Austrian nationals, one Chechen national, and one Kosovar national. Prosecutors claim that some of the accused helped Fejzulai acquire weapons and ammunition, while others provided logistical support and encouraged the attack. All six pleaded not guilty. Four defendants face life sentences and two face up to 20 years in prison.Agence France-Presse, “Alleged accomplices on trial over Vienna jihadist shooting,” Yahoo News, October 17, 2022, https://sg.news.yahoo.com/alleged-accomplices-trial-over-vienna-014215228.html; Associated Press, “6 on trial in Vienna over links to gunman in 2020 attack,” Washington Post, October 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/6-on-trial-in-vienna-over-links-to-gunman-in-2020-attack/2022/10/18/6581e7a4-4ecc-11ed-ada8-04e6e6bf8b19_story.html.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
ISIS
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, territory-controlling, religious, terrorist, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, takfiri
Position(s):
Domestic terrorist

ISIS is a violent jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has declared wilayas (provinces) in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. ISIS has also waged attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Kuwait.

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Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism. The secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars. The Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Salafist propagandist Mar. 1, 2021
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