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TERRORISM

Suspect arrested in Swiss anti-terror investigation

One person was arrested in the canton of Ticino on Wednesday as part of a criminal investigation against two men suspected of violating the law banning terror groups Al Qaida and Islamic State.

Suspect arrested in Swiss anti-terror investigation
File photo: Bas Leenders
In a statement, the federal public prosecutor’s office said over 100 federal and cantonal police officers were involved in Wednesday’s police operation, which formed part of an investigation against a Swiss-Turkish dual national and a Turk suspected of supporting terror groups. They may have helped recruit other people to Isis or related groups, said the prosecutor’s office. 
 
During the course of Wednesday’s operation police carried out various searches in Ticino, resulting in one arrest. 
 
Speaking to news agency ATS, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed that the arrested person was indeed one of the two subjects of the criminal investigation, but did not give further details.
 
An unspecified place of prayer in the Lugano region was also searched, but no one was arrested there.
 
According to ATS Ticino cantonal police are conducting a parallel investigation into the Swiss-Turkish suspect’s boss, the owner of a surveillance firm that had connections to a centre for asylum seekers in Camorino.
 
He was also arrested on Wednesday.
 
Ticino police suspect both men of breaking employment laws and violence against at least one asylum seeker, said ATS.

TERRORISM

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.

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