Switzerland snubs plans to strip terrorists of nationality

The measure put forward by Swiss president and chairman of the country's populist Swiss People’s Party Toni Brunner was rejected by the Swiss senate to the tune of 27 votes against and 12 in favour.

Switzerland snubs plans to strip terrorists of nationality
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The move was initially approved by MPs in the Swiss lower house in a vote held three weeks after the Paris attacks of November 2015.

But in a debate on the issue held this week Swiss senators said the wording of the proposal was too vague, and insisted the current legislation was effective.

Current rules allow allows for the stripping of Swiss nationality if a person’s “behaviour is a serious threat to Swiss interests or reputation”.

The law dating back to 1953 has never been used. However, a Swiss-Italian teenager suspected of joining terrorists in Syria could have his Swiss nationality withdrawn in what would be the first such case in Switzerland.

According to 20 Minuten the 19-year-old in question is thought to have left his home in Winterthur, in the canton of Zurich, for Syria in February 2015.

He subsequently posted shocking images on the internet, one showing him holding a severed head after a presumed decapitation and another in which he wore combat gear and held a Kalashnikov.  

Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service is currently monitoring some 400 potential jihadists while a dozen people have been hit with terror-related charges in Switzerland in 2016 after returning to the country after allegedly taking party in terrorist activities.

More than 60 possible Jihadists are currently facing prosecution, Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber said in March.


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.