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Swiss step up terrorist investigations

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Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP
10:08 CET+01:00
The number of criminal investigations into possible members of Islamist groups in Switzerland has doubled in the past four months.

More than 60 possible Jihadists are currently facing prosecution, according to the Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber.

Last November the number of cases being handled was 33.

“We have more than 60 criminal cases open relating to Jihadist terrorism,” Lauber said in an interview with the Bund and Tages-Anzeiger newspapers on Thursday.

He said most of the proceedings were to do with Islamist propaganda and support for terrorist organizations such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

Earlier this month a court in Ticino found three Iraqis guilty of supporting IS and handed down prison sentences. A fourth man was acquitted.

All four had been charged with trying to plant an IS cell in Switzerland and planning terrorist attacks.

“At the moment we do not have a case as serious as that of the Iraqis,” Lauber told the papers.

But he added that there were “various groupings of people considered problematic in Switzerland”.

The majority of the cases involved internet propaganda, and the Office of the Attorney General was looking for guidance from the courts as to what constituted propaganda under Swiss law.

“We hope particular cases will show us whether our laws are sufficient or whether we need to adapt them,” Lauber said.

Cases currently under investigation include one against a member of the executive of the controversial Islamic Central Council of Switzerland who released a video supporting a jihadist organization.

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Another case involves a young man arrested at Zurich airport under suspicion he was headed for Syria to join the fighting.

Lauber told the papers he did not see a Swiss connection to the attacks in Brussels earlier this week.

“There is no evidence of a direct threat to Switzerland or its interests,” Lauber said, although he conceded the level of threat was “high”.

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