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Austrian police launch mass raids against jihad recruiters

28 November 2014, 13:50

Vienna -Austrian police raided homes, prayer rooms and mosques around the country early Friday in a mass operation targeting suspected jihad recruiters, the Austria Press Agency reported, citing police sources.

Some 20 arrest warrants were also issued, APA said, but it remained unclear if anyone had yet been taken in.

The operation in Vienna and the cities of Graz and Linz, involving some 500 police officers, followed a two-year investigation into several people suspected of recruiting young people to fight in Syria.

A Bosnian preacher was reportedly the main suspect.

Beyond recruiting fighters, the daily Kronen Zeitung said that the suspects were investigated for helping to finance the Islamic State group.

Officials sources contacted by AFP neither confirmed nor denied that the raid was underway. A press conference was scheduled for later Friday, said the prosecutors' office, which is coordinating the operation.

Some 150 people have so far left Austria to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, or have been stopped while trying to do so, according to the interior ministry.

The case of two Austrian teenage girls who left for Syria in April, telling their parents that they wanted to "fight for Islam" there, especially grabbed headlines here.

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