Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Austria
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||18 August 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Austria, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e524838c.html [accessed 31 July 2014]|
Overview: Austria passed new legislation to outlaw participation in terrorist training camps abroad, signed a bilateral agreement with the United States on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC), and concluded a bilateral agreement, also with the United States, on the sharing of forfeited assets from criminal activities. Austria's Parliament adopted a government-sponsored amendment package effective in July that brought its anti-money laundering/countering terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime more in line with the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) standards.
According to Austria's counterterrorism agency, the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT), homegrown violent extremism and terrorism within transnational networks constituted the greatest threat to Austria. Counterterrorism experts noted a growing number of radicalized individuals among second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants and among converts to Islam.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The BVT served as the key counterterrorism agency within the Ministry of the Interior. An internal review by the National Audit Court called on the Ministry to increase the BVT's human resources for the fight against terrorism, to train more analysts for the protection of critical infrastructure, and to draft strategies for intercultural dialogue and countering violent extremism.
Key counterterrorism legal initiatives included new legislation criminalizing participation in terrorist training camps abroad, signing of a bilateral Austrian-U.S. agreement on PCSC, and a bilateral agreement on sharing confiscated assets from criminal activities.
In February, a Vienna appellate court rejected the request for early release from prison of a 22-year-old Muslim extremist and her husband convicted in 2009 for making terrorist threats against Austria on the Internet. In September, an Austrian court sentenced the 2009 killer of a Sikh guru visiting Austria to life imprisonment. This murder triggered violent riots in India in 2009. In December, an alleged terrorist from Chechnya living in Neunkirchen, Lower Austria, was arrested at Vienna's Schwechat Airport upon his return from Saudi Arabia. The subject of a European arrest warrant issued by Belgian authorities, the man was allegedly part of a terrorist organization suspected of terrorist activity. Extradition proceedings were pending at the end of the year.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Austria closely followed EU policies to fight terrorist financing. Austria has become a more active member of the FATF. In reaction to FATF criticism of Austria in 2009, Austria's Parliament adopted a government-sponsored amendment package, effective July 2010, which brought Austria's AML/CTF regime more in line with FATF standards. The new legislation extends the scope of money laundering offenses to self-laundering, and broadens the conditions for disclosure of information on bank accounts and bank operations during criminal proceedings. It also facilitates processing of mutual legal assistance requests, introduces stricter identification for savings deposits and stronger due diligence obligations for banks, and authorizes Austria's Financial Market Authority to issue regulations mandating additional measures where there are heightened risks, particularly in connection with states where higher money laundering or terrorist financing risks exist. The revised legal framework also provides for more transparency for trusts and foundations and extends the power and responsibility of Austria's Financial Intelligence Unit.
Austria's new Sanctions Act, effective July 1, 2010, facilitates asset seizure, forfeiture, and other counterterrorism measures; and asset freezes pursuant to UN and EU sanctions are based on the Sanctions Law rather than on the Foreign Exchange Act. The new law significantly expands and improves implementation of financial sanctions on terrorists (including measures set forth in directly applicable EU Regulations), expands the range of assets seized, provides for banning travel, bans the rendering of services to designated entities, and establishes administrative and criminal penalties for violations. The Austrian government used the new law, effective July 26, to implement enhanced EU sanctions on Iranian entities.
Regional and International Cooperation: Austria has security partnerships with several countries in the region and the Ministry of the Interior has dispatched counterterrorism liaison officers to a number of Austria's embassies in Southeastern Europe. Austria participated in various regional security platforms, including the Central European Initiative and the Salzburg Forum. It was a founding member of the Pruem Treaty, an agreement among various European states to exchange information regarding DNA, fingerprints, and vehicle registration data of concerned persons and to cooperate against terrorism. Austria chaired the al-Qa'ida/Taliban 1267 Sanctions Committee during its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC in 2009-2010. Austria ratified the two 2005 Protocols on Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms.
In October, Austria, Turkey, and Bosnia-Herzegovina co-sponsored a workshop on national coordination and regional cooperation in counterterrorism matters in Sarajevo. More than 15 countries and regional security organizations attended the UN-organized event. In December, Austrian Interior Minister Maria Fekter signed a cooperation protocol with Russia's Interior Ministry codifying deportation and repatriation procedures for illegal immigrants and Russian/Austrian criminals involved in terrorism, money laundering, and human and drug trafficking.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: A main component of Austrian efforts to counter violent extremism is to support integration in a holistic way. The Austrian government committed to a National Action Plan for Integration. Most initiatives to promote integration were publicly subsidized and took place at the local and regional level. A national integration award promoted on national TV mobilized many schools and businesses to submit creative project proposals.