Latest update: July 4th, 2014
Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.
In Austria, police say they believe that two teenage girls who vanished from their homes in the capital of Vienna on April 10 may be in Turkey, and that whoever helped them get there is using them as pin-up girls to boost recruitment efforts for the “holy war” in Syria.
Friends of Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, said the girls had become radicalized after attending a local mosque run by a Salafist preacher, Ebu Tejma, and learning about the duty of every Muslim to participate in jihad. The girls were expelled from school after inscribing “I Love Al-Qaeda” on tables and walls.
But the girls’ parents—originally Bosnian refugees who settled in Austria after the ethnic conflicts of the 1990s—say that messages and photographs posted on social media networks which claim that the girls are on the front line and fighting with their new husbands are fake.
In a possible break in the case, Austrian police say they traced a phone call Samra made to her sister in late April to a landline based in Turkey. The search for the girls continues.
At least 100 Austrian citizens or residents have participated in the fighting in Syria, according to Austrian media. Approximately 40 of them are currently on the front lines, 44 have already returned to Austria and 19 have been killed in action.
Also in April, the most senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood living in exile in Britain, Ibrahim Munir, denied claims that the group was moving its international headquarters from London to the Austrian city of Graz. The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported on April 12 that the Muslim Brotherhood was preparing to move its headquarters to Austria in an “apparent attempt to avoid an inquiry into its activities set up by the Prime Minister.”
The group was expelled from Egypt after a counter-revolution there in July 2013, and recently opened a new headquarters above a kebab shop in London. On April 1, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced an investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Britain.
A full summary of Islam in Britain during the month of April can be found here.
In the Czech Republic, police on April 25 raided the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation in the center of the capital and a mosque on the outskirts of the city. Police arrested 20 people, including the Czech translator and publisher of a book about Islamic theology that security officials said promotes hate speech and incites hatred toward Jews.
The book—”The Fundamentals of Tawheed” [Islamic monotheism] by Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-born, Qatar-based Muslim extremist who has been banned from entering Britain and Germany—was being used, police said, to spread Salafist ideology in the Czech Republic.
Also in April, it emerged that the American embassy in Prague is financing a new project aimed at promoting Islam in public elementary and secondary schools across the Czech Republic.
In Denmark, police in Copenhagen on April 25 said the man they believe tried to assassinate the Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard in February 2013 was arrested in Istanbul’s Atatürk airport as he tried to enter Turkey on a false passport. The man, identified only by the initials B.H., is awaiting extradition—a process that could take three months—in a high-security prison in the city’s Maltepe district.
Danish police say the suspect is a 26-year-old Danish citizen of Lebanese—possibly Palestinian—origin. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a fake passport. He left Denmark on the same day of the assassination attempt, police said, and has been traveling between Syria, Lebanon and Turkey ever since.
About the Author: The writer is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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