An Austrian man who fled to Syria to take up arms for the so-called Islamic State now faces having his Austrian citizenship taken away after he returned home for medical care and benefits before heading back to the war-torn country.
The 27-year-old, identified as Azad G., is reportedly being held captive in Kurdish territory in Syria and cannot be contacted, but the process to take away his passport is reportedly being made in his absence.
Video Credit: CEN/ Facebook
Back in March, Azad, who was born in the Austrian capital Vienna to a Turkish mother, said he returned to Vienna after suffering a gunshot wound, according to local media.
He was reportedly a foot soldier for the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, and after he was shot in a battle he managed to return to Austria in 2014 to seek treatment for his bullet wound.
He is said to have been treated in a Vienna hospital and also received social benefits including a lump sum and being sent on courses at the local job centre.
However, the Austrian authorities failed to prevent Azad from returning to Syria in 2015 to take up the banner of jihad again.
Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig reportedly ordered an investigation and has since started the process to withdraw his Austrian citizenship.
According to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Azad has not publicly expressed an interest to return to Austria.
Werner Sedlak from the Vienna Immigration and Citizenship office said: “We invited his relatives to talk about his whereabouts, but with no luck.”
Picture Credit: CEN/ Facebook
According to sources at Austria’s biggest newspaper Kronen Zeitung, it is believed that Azad has both Austrian and Turkish citizenship, therefore it would be possible to withdraw his European passport without leaving him stateless.
This however has not been confirmed as Austria does not allow dual citizenships apart from for children and some special exceptions.
Back in March, Azad posted a video of himself on Facebook where he is heard saying he is from Vienna.
He claims in the video that he came into contact with IS in the Austrian capital via an unnamed Islamic organisation in 2012-13.
In the same video, he warned other young Muslims to not get involved in the violent troubles and make the same mistakes he did.
In Austria, people can face up to 10 years in prison for belonging to a terrorist organisation.
Experts believe up to 100 Austrians have been fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq.