|08VIENNA1875||2008-12-22 13:38:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Vienna|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VIENNA 001875
1. Per reftel, Post is submitting the 2008 Country Report on
Terrorism for Austria. Embassy POC for this report is Political
Unit Chief Phil Kaplan, office phone: 43-1-31339-2114; email:
2. According to Austria's Bureau for the Protection of the
Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT), there are some radical
elements among second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants and
among converts to Islam in the country.
3. An Austrian court in 2008 convicted a young Muslim couple for
terrorist threats conveyed through the internet in late 2007.
Sympathizers of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan were believed to
have been behind arson attacks against the Turkish consulate in
Salzburg and Turkish associations in Vienna and Graz in October
2008. In a separate incident the same month, Kurdish demonstrators
unsuccessfully tried to force their way onto the UN premises in
Vienna. A wanted PKK activist and Ocalan confidante, Ayfer Kaya,
transited Austria in March 2008 and was subsequently arrested in
4. In November 2008, an Austrian couple kidnapped in February 2008
in Tunisia by a group calling itself "Al-Qa'ida in Islamic Maghreb"
was released in Mali. The Austrian government denied rumors that it
had paid ransom to the kidnappers.
5. Austria closely follows EU policies to fight terrorist financing.
The GOA actively participates in the EU Clearinghouse mechanism,
which designates terrorist financiers under UNSCR 1373. During
2008, Austria fulfilled its obligations to freeze assets, pursuant
to UNSC resolutions and EU Clearinghouse designations, but did not
initiate any freezing actions independently. To implement the EU's
Third Money Laundering Directive, Parliament in December 2007
approved amendments to the Stock Exchange Act, the Securities
Supervision Act, the Insurance Act, the Business Code, and Austrian
laws governing lawyers and notaries; in the first half of 2008 it
also made amendments to the Gambling Act and the law governing
accounting professionals. These introduced stricter regulations
regarding customer identification procedures, including requiring
customer identification for all transactions of more than 15,000
euros for customers without a permanent business relationship, as
well as examining businesses suspected of money laundering,
terrorist financing, and non-face-to-face transactions. The
Business Code amendment requires all traders to establish the
identity of customers for cash transactions of 15,000 euros or
6. In November 2008, the Vienna public prosecutor suspended
criminal investigations against representatives of the Palestinian
Association in Austria, an organization on OFAC's SDN (Specially
Designated Nationals) list. The prosecutor stated that he was
unable to establish proof of terrorism financing or membership in a
terrorist organization. In August 2008, a Vienna court ruled that
the GOA should unfreeze about USD 8 million from a bank account
belonging to the Abu Nidal terrorist group. The court determined
there was insufficient evidence that the money was connected to
terrorism or would be used to support terrorism. The ruling is
7. The BVT singles out a handful of suspected extremist mosques in
Vienna for monitoring. It continued to monitor the Egyptian Islamic
Jihad movement, certain radicalized converts to Islam, and suspected
Afghan extremists entering Austria as asylum seekers.
8. According to the BVT, there are a few immigrant Muslims who
sympathize with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan al
Muslimin), the Al-Gama'a al-islamiya, and the Global Revolution
group (Hizb ut-tahrir al-islamiyya). Media sites monitored by the
BVT include the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) and the as-Sahab
Foundation for Islamic Media Publications. Of the 130,000 Turks in
Austria, some 4,000 are believed to be sympathizers of the PKK.
Some Turks in Austria support Turkish jihadist Metin Kaplan. There
are also some sympathizers of the Iranian People's Modjahedin
(Modjahedin-e-Khalq). Among Palestinians in Austria, there are
supporters of Hamas, as well as of the Salafiyya Jihadiyya.
Foreign Government Cooperation
9. Austria continued its participation in the Salzburg Forum, a
regular meeting of interior ministers from Austria, the Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria.
VIENNA 00001875 002 OF 002
Stuart Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security, participated in a Salzburg Forum meeting in
Vienna in July 2008 and discussed visa policies with Austria and
other participating nations.
10. The GOA in 2008 worked to implement the Pruem Treaty. Austria
was one of the first EU countries to grant access to its police
database to the six other EU countries that are party to the Treaty.
The Treaty, which involves the exchange of DNA, fingerprint, and
vehicle data, is designed in part to identify terrorism suspects.
11. Austria lags behind other EU members in implementing a 2007 EU
directive obliging member states to store data from telephone
conversations. The EU sees such storage policies (as of March 2009,
storage of email and internet information will also be mandatory
under this directive) as a tool in the fight against terrorism.
According to a poll, 78 percent of Austrians reject the idea that
data collection and public surveillance technology helps protect
citizens from acts of terrorism. The European Commission in 2008
twice warned the GOA that if it failed to implement the data storage
directive the Commission would take the issue to the European Court
12. (U) The GOA in 2008 convened a number of international
conferences under its Dialogue Between Cultures and Religions
program. Government and religious leaders from around the world
attended the conferences in Vienna. In December 2008, an
international group of women activists founded Sisters Against
Violent Extremism (SAVE), an anti-terrorism organization
headquartered in Vienna that seeks to develop a network of women who
have been victims of terrorism.