Swiss military to launch major counter-terrorism exercise in and around Geneva

If you are in or around Geneva this week, you will likely spot soldiers and armoured cars on the streets or near the Cointrin airport. Here's why.

Swiss military to launch major counter-terrorism exercise in and around Geneva
Photo: AFP

While the presence of nearly 1,500 soldiers, dozens of police officers, as well as armoured tanks and other military vehicles may be frightening, it is all part of a major counter-terrorism exercise.

The operation will be conducted jointly with the cantonal police of Geneva and Vaud between Monday September 30th and October 8th.

The goal of the exercise is “to test the coordination processes between the army and the police, as well as to train and transmit security devices, particularly in the City of Geneva, around the airport, on various strategic points of the airport, and on various points along Lake Geneva”, according to 20 Minutes newspaper.

The army and police will also test their capacity to deploy a security force of 1,000 to 1,500 soldiers and officers within 27 hours.

The deployment of these troops and military vehicles may cause some traffic jams in Geneva, but the authorities said they would try to minimize the disturbances.


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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.