Austria arrests nine people given asylum who are now suspected of seeking to join Syria jihad

VIENNA (AFP) - Nine people who had been given asylum in Austria have been arrested on suspicion of seeking to join the jihadist opposition in Syria, the government said on Wednesday.

The arrests follow an investigation by the Austrian secret service, said Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, without giving any information on the identity of the suspects.

If found guilty, the asylum status of the nine people will be revoked, the ministry said in a statement to local press agency APA, adding that it has "a zero tolerance policy" towards jihadists.

Austrian intelligence said in a June report that around 100 people have left the country to fight in Syria since the start of the civil war there.

The role of foreign jihadists in Syria and Iraq was highlighted by the release of a video late on Tuesday appearing to show the beheading of US journalist James Foley by an Islamic State militant with an English accent.