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JIHADI

Swiss probe top Muslim leader over jihadi propaganda

Swiss federal prosecutors on Saturday expanded a criminal probe into jihadist propaganda to take in the leader of the country's largest Islamic organisation.

Swiss probe top Muslim leader over jihadi propaganda
Nicolas Blancho, or Abu Ammar AbdUllah, as he appears on Twitter. Photo: Twitter
The office of Switzerland's attorney general confirmed in an email to AFP that Nicolas Blancho, of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), was under investigation.
 
The ICCS slammed the move as “political” and said it was ready to “counter the accusations in a courtroom.”
   
Prosecutors opened the case last December, charging that an ICCS board member — German national Naim Cherni — had violated “the prohibition of groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and similar organisations.”
   
He was suspected of creating “for propaganda purposes” a video from a trip into parts of war-ravaged Syria, “without having explicitly distanced himself from Al-Qaeda activities” in the country, last year's statement said.
   
On Saturday, the attorney general's office said its probe “has been expanded to the president of the ICCS and to one other ICCS committee member,” who was identified by the organisation as its spokesman, Qaasim Illi.
   
In an interview with the NZZ daily on Friday, Attorney General Michael Lauber said the case was “of high priority, because we want to know how far freedom of expression goes when it comes to criminal propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”
   
Cherni's video included an interview with a senior member of the jihad umbrella organisation Jaysh al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which counts as a member the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which has renamed itself Fatah al-Sham.
   
He insisted the film was a documentary and was not meant as propaganda.
 
The ICCS has continued to promote the film, which remains accessible on YouTube. It has been viewed more than 100,000 times over the past year.
   
Lauber told NZZ he hoped the case would go before Switzerland's federal criminal court next year.
   
ICCS chief Blancho said in a statement on the organisation's website he would welcome his day in court to defend Muslims against “political bullying”.
 

SYRIA

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.