Austrian official: suspect potentially dangerous radical

Konrad Kogler Director General for Public Security in Austria speaks during a press conference about the results of the investigations after the arrest of a radical suspect in Vienna on Friday, in Vienna Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Another suspect thought linked to the Austrian is in German custody after his arrest Saturday. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Christian Pilnacek head of the criminal justice section in the justice ministry in Austria speakes during a press conference on the results of the investigation after the arrest of the radical suspect in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Karl Mahrer vice president of Vienna Police speaks on the results of the investigations after the arrest of the radical suspect in Vienna on Friday, during a press conference in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Another suspect thought linked to the Austrian is in German custody after his arrest Saturday. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

VIENNA — Austrian police urged Vienna residents Monday to be on heightened alert for suspicious objects and activities as they hunted for possible associates of a suspected Islamic radical who they say might have been planning a bomb attack.

A 12-year-old boy was among those questioned. Briefing reporters along with other senior law enforcement representatives, Konrad Kogler, Austria's top security official, said the boy had been in contact with the main suspect arrested Friday in his Vienna apartment. Kogler said the child is under supervision, without going into details.

Amid the search for suspects, Vienna Deputy Police Chief Karl Mahrer told reporters that the Austrian capital would remain under increased security alert until police were satisfied that any threat of potential attacks was banished

"Look, instead of looking away," he urged Vienna residents, calling on them to immediately report anything unusual that could be linked to a terrorist strike.

Separately, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told state broadcaster ORF that the arrested suspect — a 17-year-old male — has said he supports the Islamic State group. Sobotka described the suspect as having a "real communications network" and as someone with "weight" in radical circles.

At a subsequent news conference, Sobotka said "several connecting lines" existed between the youth and other potential suspects in Austria and in Germany. He said the teenager had a "Salafistic background," adding that any attack plans he might have had appeared to have been still in the planning stage.

A SWAT team made the arrest after what police said was a tip from a foreign intelligence service. The youth was not identified due to Austrian privacy laws, but Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said the suspect is believed to be in contact with radical "Albanian-Islamist" circles.

Wolfgang Blaschitz, the suspect's lawyer, rejected suggestions that his client was a dangerous radical, describing him as "misled."

While acknowledging that the teenager was duped into believing that "countermeasures ... through attacks or similar" were justified in response for misdeeds against civilians in Syria, Blaschitz said "he had no attack plans."

Another suspect thought linked to the teenager was in German custody after his detention Saturday.

German news agency dpa said law enforcement officials suspected the 21-year-old of helping the Austrian plan an attack and experimenting with making explosives in the German suspect's apartment in the city of Neuss. It cited them as saying, however, that no weapons or explosives were found in a search of his apartment at the time of his arrest.

Austrian authorities said after they detained their suspect that he may have been close to carrying out an attack, with the city's subway line a potential target.

Sobotka said there were no indications that he had "concrete" plans. But the decision to indefinitely increase the presence of Vienna police at train stations and other frequented areas indicated continued concerns about what Kogler described as a "potential danger situation."

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This story has been corrected to show that the minor's age was 12.

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