This forms part of CAGE’s report Operation Luxor: Unravelling the myths behind Austria’s largest ever peacetime police raids

Download the report here

View the rest of the project at our report hub here


Officers told them they had drone pictures of the house explicitly made for them. They knew every entry point.


Ahmad and his wife Sarah had never had any major experiences with police in Austria before. Other than facing some instances of racism and the occasional traffic stop, they had no reason to question the Austrian state and their place in the country.

Since Operation Luxor, that has changed entirely.

Sarah was awake when the police arrived. After unsuccessfully trying to break in through the door, the officers had to ring the doorbell to get in the house.

When Sarah opened the door she was greeted by a gun pointed at her chest. The officer pressed it against her, forced her into the kitchen and demanded that she sit down – digging the gun into her chest to ensure she did.

The special unit officers then stormed the house, bursting into the children’s rooms to wake them and force them to the kitchen. For hours, the entire family remained there, inches away from the officers’ gun barrels.

Sarah had begged the officers not to wake their 14 year-old son upstairs in this way, as she feared for his already fragile mental health. To this day, the boy has no clear memory of what happened that night. 

It’s very hard for him to remember anything about it.

The officer’s phone had a far-right symbol on it

The police searched the house for four hours, between 5am and 9am.
Electronic devices were taken, including a brand new laptop, nearly all phones and a USB with medical records of her son – despite the family’s pleas.

Officers also brought in a dog that was trained to search for money. The search seemed inconsistent – officers took Sarah ’s purse with around €200 in spare change, but left other money behind. Occasionally an officer would come through to the kitchen and ask if they had a place where money was stashed 

The family’s experiences with the specialist unit officers were deeply unpleasant.
They recall a female officer who made condescending comments during the raids, complaining that the house ‘wasn’t clean enough’ for her standards. When she took Sarah’s purse, she said she would also ‘love to have that much money’.

Another officer had a phone cover with a far-right symbol on it.

When they asked the officers why they didn’t ring the bell and tried to break in at first, they responded by telling them that they hadn’t found the doorbell and were prepared to break in through the window if needed. 

Officers told them they had drone pictures of the house explicitly made for them. They knew every entry point.

Following the raid, one of the boys returned to his room to find his Qur’an torn.
He couldn’t tell if it was intentional or not – but every other book in the room had been left untouched. 

The interrogation had nothing to do with the case, but rather his religion

After the special unit had secured the house, regular police officers entered.
Each family member was left with two police officers watching them and a gun pointed at them.

The police officer in charge of Ahmad took him to the police station for questioning.
Even he was clearly uncomfortable with the way the raid had unfolded – he advised Ahmad  to get a lawyer for the questioning session.

Police at the station questioned Ahmad for three hours, after a search of his workplace.
Five months later in April, he came in for a scheduled interrogation.

Questions included whether he ‘wakes his children up for morning prayer’ and if he sends them to the mosque. They asked whether he believed ‘homosexuals should be murdered according to Shari’a’, and if his daughter was allowed to marry a Christian. And whether his wife was forced to wear the hijab – despite the fact that she doesn’t wear one.

They also asked specifically about his role as a community leader, and showed pictures from particular events. 

After some time Ahmad’s lawyer put an end to the interview. Though the interviewer was polite, it was clear that most of the questions had nothing to do with the case, but focused instead on Ahmad’s religion.

No trust or respect left for the police or the state

The family were left deeply scarred by the raid.
For weeks after they couldn’t stand loud noises, like the sound of doors being slammed. Everything had to be quiet for them to feel safe at home. 

The family have sleep problems and don’t feel safe around others.
Sarah was in complete shock, and still requires intensive therapy, while the children’s grades have suffered.

The affair has taken a huge financial toll on the family, as they had to pay for a lawyer, had to buy new phones and laptops so they could continue with online school and exams.

Since the raids, neither Ahmad nor Sarah have any trust or respect for the police or state. They have seen the dark side of Austria, and see it as reminiscent of a dictatorship.

Like others impacted by Operation Luxor, the family are considering whether it is time to leave Austria.

Life for the family has changed since the Operation Luxor raids.

Ahmad is more conscientious about everything. He now pays attention to data security, something he had never considered in the past. And he is more focused on his deen.

Ahmad sees it as an attempt to intimidate them. But since seeing the farce of the interrogation process, he is more confident in their ability to beat the Austrian state in the case.


Image used courtesy of Unsplash/Alec Favale

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)