Attack at US embassy in Vienna thwarted

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

Oct. 1, 2007, 19:15 PM
A Bosnian who tried to enter the U.S. Embassy in Vienna with a backpack
filled with explosives, nails and Islamic literature was arrested Monday
after the bag set off a metal detector and the man fled on foot, authorities
said.

Police sealed off the neighborhood as a precaution and shut down or rerouted
nearby bus and tram lines. Officers patrolled the area with bomb-sniffing
dogs.

The suspect was described only as a 42-year-old native of Bosnia-Herzegovina
who now lives in the province of Lower Austria, which encircles most of the
capital. Police said they made the arrest a short distance from the embassy
building in a neighborhood where security is tight.

Vienna police spokeswoman Michaela Raz said explosives experts were
examining the contents of the backpack.

“There were a lot of nails in that bag. Had it exploded, it would have had
an enormous shrapnel effect,” said Doris Edelbacher, of Austria’s federal
counterterrorism office.

The explosives resembled hand grenades, she told reporters, but that
munitions experts were still working to determine whether the device had
been properly rigged to explode.

The suspect spoke broken German and appeared to ramble during an initial
interrogation, Edelbacher said.

It was unclear how far he made it into the embassy. Public broadcaster ORF,
citing unidentified officials, reported that a metal detector sounded an
alarm as the man was passing through security checks and that he fled
immediately.

The nature of the Islamic material he allegedly was carrying also was
unclear.

Embassy officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last month, authorities arrested three people – all Austrian citizens of
Arab origin in their 20s – in connection with a video posted online in March
that had threatened Austria and Germany with attacks if they did not
withdraw their military personnel from Afghanistan.

One of the suspects was released several days later for lack of evidence.

On Friday, the Interior Ministry said it found a list of politicians
circulating online as potential targets for attacks. The individuals were
notified, but authorities said there were no indications that any of them
were ever in danger.
 

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