(November 3, 2020)
Condolences and condemnations poured in from Jewish organizations around the world following the deadly terrorist attack in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday night, which took place near the city’s main synagogue.
Fourteen people have been arrested so far after a lone terrorist opened fire in central Vienna, killing four and wounding 22. The terrorist was killed by police and was later identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, who had attempted to join ISIS last year and was convicted of a terrorism offense. He was released from jail in December.
CNN quoted Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister, who witnessed part of the shooting, saying that the terrorist “was working like a professional, trained attacker. He looked professional, he didn’t look confused and he wasn’t shooting around randomly — it was very targeted and coordinated, like a fighter.”
Responses from across the Jewish world were quick to come in. Oskar Deutsch, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish community, said, “Our thoughts go out to the victims of the attack and their families.”
“The proximity to our main synagogue strongly suggests an antisemitic motive of the Islamist attacker,” he noted. “But what the incident also shows is that antisemitism, which is inherent in radical Islamism, is not only a threat to Jews, but to all those concerned with freedom, democracy, and human values.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor commented that the attacks “once again show the threat posed by Islamist terror organizations to European cities.”
“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,” he said. “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 and it reminds us that terror targets us all.”
Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement, saying, “We stand in solidarity with the Austrian people as this tragedy unfolds. The purveyors of terrorism are despicable and cowardly; their murderous attacks against unarmed civilians will never succeed in crushing the freedom and liberty that they abhor.”