Terror Attack in Vienna, Target Unclear

Written By: Hannah Yale

On the night of Monday, Nov. 2, 4 people were killed and at least 14 others were wounded during a terrorist attack in the Austrian capital of Vienna. One gunman was killed by police. Witnesses from the scene claim that about 50 shots total were exchanged during the attack. The Vienna police originally believed that there were multiple attackers, but after a city-wide search, a search of the gunman’s apartment, and analysis of live footage from the attack, they determined that he had acted alone. The gunman, 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai, was called an Islamic State (ISIS) “sympathizer” by Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. Fejzulai, who had both Austrian and Macedonian citizenship, had been jailed for 22 months in April 2019 after attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS jihadists, according to Interior Minister Nehammer. BBC News reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on their news outlet, Amaq. 

The 4 victims who were shot and killed at the scene were: a 21-year-old man originally from North Macedonia who was described as a painter and a lover of football; a 24-year-old woman from Germany who had been studying at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and who was killed in front of the Salzamt restaurant where she worked as a waitress; a 39-year-old Austrian man who was shot in front of a bar and was later found dead; and a 44-year-old Austrian woman who was shot and died later in hospital of her wounds.

The shooting took place the night before a second COVID-19 lockdown in Austria, in an area Viennese locals call the “Bermuda Triangle”: a web of streets packed with bars, pubs, and city nightlife. It is also home to Vienna’s main Jewish synagogue, the Stadttempel. Authorities have not yet determined who was the target of the attack. Oskar Deutsch, the president of the Jewish Religious Community in Austria, said on Twitter that the shooting had occurred “in the immediate vicinity” of the temple, but that it was closed at the time and it was unclear whether the synagogue was specifically targeted. Nonetheless, Jewish communities are remaining vigilant, especially as antisemitic hate crime rates escalate across the globe. 

The Stadttempl was the only Jewish house of worship in Austria to survive the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass.” The 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht took place on Nov. 9, just days after the terror attack.

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