Swiss police target Islamist extremists in raids across the country

Swiss police carried out raids in several regions of the country Tuesday targeting people suspected of ties to Islamist extremists, prosecutors said.

Swiss police target Islamist extremists in raids across the country
Photo: AFP

Around 100 police officers took part in the raids in the cantons of Zurich, Bern and Schaffhausen, conducting a total of 11 house searches, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said in a statement. 

The operation targeted 11 individuals, including five juveniles who will face proceedings headed by a special office for juvenile prosecutions, the statement said.

OAG meanwhile said it had launched criminal proceedings against the six adults over suspicions that they violated Swiss law banning support of and membership in Islamic terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

One of the six was a returned foreign fighter who had been convicted previously of violating Switzerland's anti-terror legislation.

The OAG said it had requested that he and one other individual be held in pre-trial detention and remain in custody until a final verdict is issued.

It was not clear how many of the 11 targetted suspects had been detained.

Tuesday's operation comes less than a week after the OAG filed criminal indictments against two other men accused of supporting and participating in the Islamic State group, including recruiting fighters to the terror  organisation.

And last month, the country for the first time revoked the citizenship of a dual national after he was convicted of recruiting jihadist fighters for “an Islamist terrorist organisation”.

Swiss intelligence said in May that there were 66 people in the country considered to pose a security risk due to suspected terrorist activities or beliefs.

Swiss authorities have tallied 92 jihadists who have left Switzerland since 2001 to serve as foreign fighters, including 16 who have returned to the country and 31 who have died.

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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.