Police are investigating yet another double murder of an elderly couple. But this time it is different. Authorities say that they have a suspect in custody that has admitted to killing the couple but this is not just any murder. The suspect, a Tunisian man admitted to killing the people turns out to be a “radicalized Muslim,” making this the first Islamist attack in the country.
The Austrian Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka said at a press conference, “It turns out that the suspect is obviously a radicalized Muslim who has murdered two people,” Reuters reports. “For this reason I am talking about a murder case which clearly has an Islamist background.”
Police said that last week the Muslim immigrant turned himself in to authorities, confessing he had killed a married couple in the city of Linz. The 85-year-old woman had her throat slit with a knife, while her husband, 87, was stabbed and beaten to death. Police named the self-proclaimed perpetrator, only as Mohammed H. who according to local media, also set fire to the couple’s house.
It has been reported that the 54-year-old Muslim acted out of “hatred and political motives,” because the couple’s son was an active member of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO). A police spokesman told reporters; “He said he committed the murders for political motives and out of hatred of the FPO.”
But, after a search at the suspect’s home and an investigation into his his social networks, the investigation took a different turn, according to Minister Sobotka, but he refused to give further details. The Tunisian is said to have acted alone, according to Profil weekly citing the region’s police chief, Andreas Pilsl. Mohammed H. is said to have resided in Upper Austria since 1989, knew the victims and delivered groceries to them from his wife’s store. In fact, the victims had even developed “a friendly relationship” with their alleged killer according to authorities.
Meanwhile, the FPO party is now accusing security forces of failing to prevent the murder, and the head of the FPO in Upper Austria, Manfred Haimbuchner, told media that the suspect had been known to authorities. Police Chief Pilsl admitted that the suspect had been on their radar since and anonymous tip back in 2015, but said, “nothing was found that could indicate a radicalization.”
Deputy State Governor of Upper Austria Thomas Stelzer said “We obviously have more integration problems in Austria than we thought. This attack will not shatter our democratic principles.”