Austria’s security authorities fail with their attempted strike against political Islam. Political scientist Farid Hafez has now also been exonerated.
VIENNA taz | Terrorist association, anti-state connection, criminal organization, terror financing and money laundering: All of these were accused of a number of Muslim suspects in Austria two years ago. But what was planned as a blow to political Islam turned out to be an embarrassment for Austria’s Ministry of the Interior.
As it became known on Tuesday, the authorities also stopped investigating one of the central figures in the focus of the intelligence officers last week. It is about the political scientist Farid Hafez, who as the author of the so-called Islamophobia Reports became known and as a guest author in the past too for the taz wrote.
During “Operation Luxor” on November 9, 2020, around 70 offices and apartments across Austria were searched by people who were Muslim Brotherhood belonged to or should have been close to her. They were suspected of being involved in planning terrorist actions.
In the meantime, the Graz Higher Regional Court, which was entrusted with examining the operation, has qualified some of the raids as unlawful. Investigations had to be dropped against 31 of the more than 100 suspects. The exoneration of Hafez, who now teaches at Georgetown University in Washington DC, is the culmination of the official failure.
propaganda action of the ÖVP
The then Minister of the Interior and current Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer is responsible for “Operation Luxor”, which today must be seen as a propaganda campaign by the conservative ÖVP. The raids took place a week after the terrorist attacks of November 2, 2020 held in Vienna.
However, the operation was not a reaction to the terrorist attack. Rather, the reason for the weeks of planning was that the intelligence officers did not have the resources to investigate concrete indications of an impending terrorist act. This was determined by a commission of inquiry in 2021. The information from the Slovakian secret service that an Islamist with a relevant criminal record had tried to buy ammunition for a Kalashnikov in Bratislava was lost in the channels of the Austrian intelligence services.
It had recently become quiet about “Operation Luxor”. The Ministry of the Interior could not communicate any investigation results – because there were none. The Higher Regional Court of Graz could find “no substrate” that would support the suspicion that Hafez “had participated as a member in a terrorist organization (especially Hamas), criminal organization or in an anti-state connection related to Austria, such personal connections in any other way supports or finances terrorist activities,” the court order said. 75 people are still under investigation. Nobody was arrested.
Paid studies from Turkey
What Hafez, a political scientist from Ried im Innkreis in Upper Austria, classifies as “Islamophobic” in his reports may come as a surprise: for example, a comment in the Salzburg newsin which Muslims are asked to treat daughters and sons equally.
Hafez also took issue with the legal ban on Islamist terror symbols and warnings that IS fighters could be among the refugees. Some of the professor’s studies were paid for by the Turkish think tank Seta, which is considered President Erdoğan’s propaganda organ.
However, according to the Graz Higher Regional Court, the allegations are a “collection of mere hints, rumors and conjectures.” In an interview with the Ö1-Morgenjournal on Wednesday, Hafez himself suspected that he should be silenced because many politicians, above all those of the ÖVP, did not come off well in its reports. His children are still traumatized by the forced entry by heavily armed special police agents at 5 a.m.