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TERRORISM

Campaign launched for tougher gun laws in Switzerland

A new platform composed of left-wing politicians, police officers and psychiatrists is pushing for Switzerland to follow the European Union in tightening controls on guns.

Campaign launched for tougher gun laws in Switzerland
Stock photo: George Frey, Getty Images North America/AFP

Representatives of the Social Democratic Party (SP), the Swiss police officers association VSPB/FSFP and the Swiss federation of psychiatrists and psychotherapists FMPP joined forces on Thursday ahead of a debate on the issue in parliament, the Tribune de Genève reported.

The EU parliament approved a revised gun law last year designed to close security loopholes and introduce tighter controls on blank-firing and inadequately deactivated weapons like those used in the Paris terror attacks.

On March 2nd the Federal Council issued a message on a “pragmatic implementation” of the EU legislation in Switzerland in response to the terror attacks in Europe.

It said the focus was on limiting access to semi-automatic weapons with a large magazine capacity and improving the exchange of information in the Schengen area that includes Switzerland.

The government’s message will now be debated by the two chambers of parliament.

While supporters of gun ownership in Switzerland oppose the proposed tighter legislation and have threatened to call a referendum, the new platform backs even stronger controls on guns.

In particular it wants to limit access to fire arms in order to reduce their use in domestic crimes where the victims are most often women.

Max Hoffman of the police officers association told news website Watson police were campaigning for the EU legislation to be adopted in Switzerland as “violence is becoming ever more brutal” in the country.

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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