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'Islamist' motive behind murder of elderly couple in Austria, official says

A Tunisian man arrested in the murder of an elderly couple in Austria last week is deemed to have had an Islamist motivation, the country’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said.

“It turns out that the suspect is obviously a radicalized Muslim who has murdered two people,” Sobotka told local ORF radio, adding that the case had an “Islamist background” based on early evidence uncovered by investigators in both the suspect’s home and on social media.

An 85-year-old woman was slain after being stabbed and her throat slit with a knife, while her 87-year-old husband was beaten to death in their Linz home. The suspect, a 54-year-old Tunisian native who has lived in Austria for 28 years, is believed to have delivered groceries to the couple and conjectured that they had ties to Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

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The suspect was, according to Sobotka, known to authorities and was briefly investigated in 2015 following anonymous tips but “nothing was found that could indicate a radicalization.”

At this stage, he is thought to have acted alone and not under the umbrella of a formal organization.

“He said he committed the murders for political motives and out of hatred of the FPO,” a police spokesman stated, declining to comment on whether the suspect – who surrendered himself to authorities – had an Islamist motive.