Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Politikaner
Central Vienna near the synagogue, January 1, 2009

European Jewry was “shocked and appalled” by the terrorist shooting in central Vienna Monday night, according to the head of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor.

Three people in addition to the terrorist were killed — a man and two women — plus 15 others who were wounded in the series of shootings that started near the Stadttempel synagogue.

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One of the gunmen, shot dead by police, has been identified as 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai, an Islamic State sympathizer. The terrorist was wearing a fake explosive belt at the time of the attack. Police and SWAT teams used explosives to enter Fejzulai’s home and carry out a search.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the shooting was “definitely a terror attack” and added that “an anti-Semitic motive cannot be excluded” due to proximity of the attack to the synagogue.

Several “heavily armed perpetrators” are still at large, according to Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, who told public broadcaster ORF on Tuesday, “We are still in battle against the would-be terrorists.” The public has been asked to remain at home or in a safe place, and to follow the news in the media.

All synagogues, Jewish schools, the institutions of the Jewish Community of Vienna, kosher restaurants and supermarkets in Vienna were closed Tuesday as a precaution, according to Oskar Deutsch, head of the Vienna Jewish community.

“These multiple and clearly coordinated terror attacks in central Vienna once again show the threat posed by Islamist terror organizations to European cities. We are appalled by this particular level of hatred and wish to kill and maim, which seeks out as many victims as possible on the last night before Austria enforces a lockdown due the coronavirus,” Kantor said.

“No place in Europe is immune to terror attacks, and no community exempt from these barbarous acts. The initial shooting outside the synagogue in Vienna brings back tragic memories for us, as one of the first attacks on Jewish targets in Europe happened at this very spot almost 40 years ago.

“It reminds us that vigilance, commitment to fighting terror and assertion of our values is a constant necessity to rid Europe of this deadly scourge of terror and intolerance and and it reminds us that terror targets us all,” he added.

Kantor sent “deep condolences” to the families and loved ones of the victims and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. “The Jewish communities of Europe stand in solidarity with the Austrian people at this tragic time,” he said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.