swastika 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
BERLIN – Austria’s domestic intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz, which is
responsible for combating terrorism and neo-Nazi extremism, was plagued by
disclosures last week in an APA news report of one of its agents having close
ties to the leading neo-Nazi website alpen-donau.info and the Austrian far-right
Rudolf Gollia, a spokesman for Austria’s Interior
Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post during a telephone conversation on Friday that
intelligence agent Josef Fertschai is continuing to work for the ministry and
there is no reason “to sever ties” with him because his son, Benjamin Fertschai,
is active on the “right-wing nationalist” scene.
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While the Austrian media
have not revealed the full names of the agent and his son, the Post obtained
them from sources in Vienna. The Austrian Interior Ministry transferred Josef
Fertschai this summer from its intelligence division to a new position in the
According to the APA, there are indications that the neo-Nazi
site received sensitive information about the activities of the domestic
intelligence agency, leading to Fertschai as the leak. The
alpendonau.info website is widely considered to be one of the leading
neo-Nazi sites in Central Europe, and frequently incites hard-core hatred
Gollia told the Post that although the site is a
German-language homepage, the server is in the US. According to Austrian media
reports, the police have jump-started searches of homes connected to
alpen-donau.info in a number of Austrian regional states. Gollia said the site
contains “anti-Semitic content.”
Critics in Austria and Israel have long
slammed Austrian officials for failing to crack down on alpendonau.info
and its anti-Jewish content.
Samuel Laster, the editor-in-chief of the
Vienna-based online Jewish news site Die Jüdische, told the Post
on Friday that
the site had termed him a “dirty Jew.” Laster, who has over the years published
articles documenting and criticizing the anti-Semitic tirades appearing on
alpen-donau.info, has been the subject of threats from the extreme right-wing
Earlier this year, the neo-Nazi site issued a death threat
against the spokeswoman for the Austrian chapter of Stop the Bomb, which seeks
to halt the Iran’s nuclear program and promote Israel’s security.
told the Post that “apparently, the people from the Interior Ministry have not
told the truth to the media... There is a complaint against the father as well
as the son, and both are the subject of an investigation.”
links between Austria’s extreme far-right scene and an agency responsible for
fighting the right-wing extremists, “How should people feel protected against
the dangers of terror?” Laster asked. “How many other Nazi moles are involved in
the security structures?” The Austrian authorities are “insensitive toward the
victims“ of Nazis, said Laster. He noted that a representative of Austria’s
public prosecutor had said that “it is not our goal to shut down the
Laster raised further question marks over Austria’s ability to
combat radical ideologies such as Islamic terror.
One of Austria’s
largest political parties, the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party), has strong ties to
Austria’s neo-Nazi scene. FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache has an affinity for
neo-Nazi groups, and has in the past attended events organized by the Viking
Youth in Germany, a radical nationalistic group that has since been
The FPÖ has associations with Holocaust deniers, and scored
dramatic vote results in this year’s Vienna mayoral election.
is also represented in the Austrian federal parliament.