Swiss jihad suspect arrested on return from Turkey

A suspected jihadist from Geneva was arrested at Zurich airport as he returned from a nine-month trip to Turkey last week, according to reports.

Swiss jihad suspect arrested on return from Turkey
The man had returned to Switzerland from Turkey. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Confirming the news to paper Le Tribune de Genève, a spokesman for the Swiss public prosecutor’s office said a 29-year-old with dual Swiss-Tunisian nationality was arrested on his return from Turkey on August 9th.

According to the paper, police suspected the practising Muslim had been radicalized.

After he took a plane to Istanbul last October, his mother told the paper she thought the police feared he was travelling on to Syria.

In February the public prosecutor opened a case against him and a 21-year-old friend, who was arrested in June.  

The pair are suspected of breaking the Swiss law which bans terror groups Al-Qaeda and Isis.

They are accused of supporting and participating in criminal organizations, the Swiss public prosecutor’s office told the paper.

“These arrests illustrate the rigorous procedures against anyone in Switzerland suspected of trying to participate in terrorism as part of the jihadist movement,” said the spokesman.

In July a Swiss court made history when it convicted a man for attempting to travel to Syria to join Isis, the first time anyone had been prosecuted for such an act.

The Swiss-Lebanese man was arrested at Zurich airport before getting on a flight to Istanbul in 2015 “with a view to joining Isis and dying as a martyr”, judged the court.

In June the government asked the justice department to draw up a proposal to stop alleged Swiss jihadists travelling overseas to fight, potentially by stripping them of their travel documents.


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.