LONDON: Osama Abu Al-Hassana was working a shift as assistant manager at the McDonald’s restaurant in the busy Schwedenplatz area in Vienna last week, when he heard gun shots outside.
As the Palestinian — who arrived in Austria from Gaza as a refugee eight years ago — carefully looked out to see what was happening, the 20-year-old shooter ran past the entrance towards the more crowded parts of the district.
After instructing his team to hide, Osama pointed out to armed police the direction in which the attacker headed.
As the terrorist began shooting at the police, the 23-year-old could not stand by idly and watch, which pushed him to go and do as much as he could to help.
“When Osama was in Gaza, he witnessed at least two to three wars so he has background on what to do when gunshots or bombs happen,” Osama’s father, Khalid Abu Al-Hassana, told Arab News.
“This act is also based on his own intuition, his humanity and his manners,” he added.
Khalid said that it was Islam that had taught his son to help others in trouble.
“We, the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Muslims — this is our way and our religion, and this is how we were brought up.
“This is how my father raised me, and this is how I raised Osama,” he added.
Osama was not the only Palestinian to aid the police during the fatal attack that evening, as Bassel Abu Khaled was among those on the front lines as well.
However, Abu Khaled declined to be interviewed regarding his role in stopping the attacker, instead only stating that it was his nature as a human being.
The attack happened hours before a partial lockdown was due to go into effect in Austria due to the rising spread of the coronavirus disease, with restaurants, cafes and hotels shuttered and restrictions enforced on movement at night.
Four people — including the gunman — were killed, in what Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a “repulsive terrorist attack.” The attacker was later identified as 20-year-old convicted extremist Kujtim Fejzulai, from Vienna.