Swiss authorities on Wednesday confirmed that the two men arrested near Zurich were “friends” of the gunman who killed four people in a shooting in Vienna and said police would fully investigate his relationship with him.
Austrian police opened fire on a gunman as he opened fire on a crowded area in the city center on Monday night. They identified him as 20-year-old Kuztim Fazzulai, a convicted terrorist who had dual Austrian and northern Macedonian nationalities.
Swiss police on Tuesday arrested two people between the ages of 18 and 24 in the city of Winterthur, which has become a concern over radicalization incidents in recent years. Austrian police have arrested 14 people while trying to establish whether Fazzulai has a partner.
Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said in a panel discussion on the website of the Saint Geller Tagblat newspaper that the two men arrested were clearly friends of the shooter. She said they met “in person”, but did not say when.
“The accused in Vienna and the two men arrested in Winterthur know each other,” a Keller-Sutter ministry spokesman said in an email Wednesday. Officers are examining the close coordination of the nature of their relationship.
The two individuals whose names have not been released are related to two criminal cases already being handled by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and are set to open in 2018 and 2019. The old man is an accused in those cases.
Winterthur, about 20 kilometers from the German border, is the site of a now-closed mosque where officials say they have attracted preachers who give “hate speech.”
Many young men from the Winterthur area associated with the mosque went to Syria to fight Dash. Membership and support of a terrorist organization is banned in Switzerland.
In September, a man from the Swiss media called him the “Emir of Winterthur” and described him as a prominent terrorist in Switzerland, and sentenced Dash to 50 months in prison.