Article in Siak-Journal International, published by the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior

together with Paul Schliefsteiner: Jihadist Terror with a Fatal Outcome. A comparative case study on attacks in Austria and Germany, in: SIAK-Journal. Zeitschrift für Polizeiwissenschaft und polizeiliche Praxis, Security Academy (SIAK) at the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, International Edition, 2023, pp. 49-67.



The number of jihadist-motivated terror attacks with a fatal outcome has also increased in recent years in German-speaking Europe. Analysis shows that these acts are mostly isolated or considered in the context of time and content with attacks abroad in non-German-speaking countries. This article presents a comparison of the fatal jihadist attacks of recent years in this part of the continent. The period chosen goes back as far as 2015. Following the refugee crisis, which culminated in the autumn/winter of that year, the parameters and potential for such attacks in Central Europe changed substantially. Basically, it can be said that terror attacks resulting in fatalities (regardless of the motivation of the respective perpetrator) were rather rare up until that point. According to official data, until 2 November 2020, there had not been any fatal attacks in Austria at all since 1995 (the Oberwart attack);4 the two mentioned were completely differently motivated ideologically speaking. In Germany, there were rightwing terrorist-motivated attacks in Munich (22 July 2016), Kassel (2 June 2019), Halle (9 October 2019) and Hanau (9 February 2020) – all committed by lone perpetrators in execution of the crime. To some extent, dissatisfaction with refugee policy played a role as a motive for the attacks to a greater or lesser degree, as was proven in Munich, Kassel and Halle. For the jihadist spectrum, the final attack of the type considered in Germany would be that of 2 March 2011 at Frankfurt Airport, which cost two US soldiers their lives. The decision to focus on those cases in which victims died is because these attacks have to be considered as having been the “most successful” from the perspective of the terrorists. The question as to whether an attack was a “terrorist act” within the meaning of the penal code did not play a role in their selection – also because differences exist in the legal frameworks from country to country in this regard.


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Dr. Florian Hartleb is Research Director at the European Institute for Counter-Terrorism and Conflict Prevention (EICTP) and Associate Researcher at the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies (ACIPPS).