Kurdish brothers charged with ‘terror’ ties

Two Kurdish brothers from Iraq, living as refugees in Switzerland, have been charged with taking part in a "terrorist" organization linked to Al-Qaeda, the Swiss attorney general's office said on Monday.

The two brothers, whose names and ages were not given, stood accused of using internet forums and chat-rooms to distribute images and texts about "attacks carried out by Islamist terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda and Ansar al Islam," the office of Switzerland's top prosecutor said in a statement.

They were charged among other things with participating in and supporting "a criminal organization, (and) public incitement to crime or violence," according to the statement.

The elder brother was suspected of creating a new Al-Qaeda support organization in cooperation with Mullah Krekar, the founder of the radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al Islam who is currently serving consecutive prison sentences in Norway for threatening a former government minister and others.

The new group, according to Monday's statement, had used a number of internet platforms to distribute images of terror attacks and messages from Al-Qaeda "for propaganda purposes."

According to the attorney general's office, the new organization counts members in a number of European countries, and aims to pursue the goals of the Al-Qaeda network and "thus enable, through violent criminal actions, the introduction on a global scale of a Muslim Khalifate based on Sharia law."

The elder brother had held a number of key responsibilities in the new organization, according to Monday's statement.

He was among other things accused of having set up an internet forum and numerous chat-room pages, and of having transmitted messages between Mullah Krekar, whose real name is Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, and armed groups in Iraq that are closely linked to Al-Qaeda.

His younger brother, meanwhile, stood accused of taking active part in the internet forums and chat-rooms and posting numerous pictures and texts promoting the group's message.

According to the prosecution, he had chosen of his own free will to "contribute to the pursuit and the realization of the Al-Qaeda network's goals."

The two brothers have refugee status in Switzerland. The Swiss migration authority has tried to strip them of that status after they were reportedly arrested on unknown charges in Basel in 2008, but that case is still working its way through the court system.

Their trial is to take place in Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court.

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Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

Four suspected members or sympathisers of the Islamic State group have been detained in Germany and Switzerland in a cross-border operation, prosecutors from the two countries said Tuesday.

Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

In Switzerland, three people were picked up in the cantons of Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne, national authorities said, adding that seven further searches were also carried out.

The suspects, whose identities were not released, are accused of “participation in or support for the outlawed organisation Islamic State”.

In Germany, a man was detained in the western town of Roemerberg, federal prosecutors said.

Identified only as Aleem N., he is “strongly suspected of preparing a serious violent attack threatening the security of the state and of belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation”.

He is believed to have attempted to travel from Germany via Turkey to Syria in September 2020.

“In Syria, the suspect wanted to join the foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State, attain military training and then take part in combat or terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

However, Aleem N. was unable to reach Syria for reasons that were not immediately clear and returned to Germany.

“At the latest in April 2021 he joined Isis in Germany and carried out vast propaganda activities for the group,” prosecutors said.

His duties included “mainly translating official texts, videos and audio messages by Isis from Arabic into German and distributing them on various Telegram channels in German-speaking areas”.

“Isis considered such activities to be equivalent to taking part directly in violent jihad,” it added.

The suspect is also believed to have taken part in a telephone conversation with Isis leaders in late 2021 to “verify his reliability” before travelling to “IS zones of operation”.

However, “a further attempt” to reach Syria in January 2022 “failed again”.

Aleem N. was to appear on Tuesday before a federal judge who will decide whether to remand him in custody.

German intelligence services estimate that more than 1,150 people have travelled from Germany to Iraq and Syria since 2011 for Islamist reasons.

More than a third have since returned to Germany, while at least 270 have been killed in Iraq or Syria.

“A low three-digit-number” are currently detained in the two countries, according to the intelligence services’ 2021 report.