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Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. Photo supplied

Switzerland: 11 jihadists arrested in country-wide raids

An anti-terror raid in three German-speaking cantons across Switzerland netted 11 suspected jihadists including five minors.

Published: October 31, 2019, 6:40 am

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    Bern

    Some 100 federal police officers along with cantonal police from Schaffhausen, Bern, and Zurich took part in the raids which were conducted by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC), the State Minors’ Ministries of Winterthur, and the Canton of Bern, 20minutes reported.

    Switzerland may not be a center for radical Islamism compared to countries like Belgium and France, but the radicalized population is nevertheless present. At least 66 individuals are thought to be at serious risk of participating in terrorist activity in the country, according to a report released in May by the Confederation Intelligence Service (SRC).

    A Federal Office of Police (FEDPOL) report released earlier this year on jihadism from 2012 to 2018 showed that a majority were radicalized in Switzerland, although 60 percent were born abroad.

    Jean-Paul Rouiller, director of the Geneva Centre for Training and Analysis of Terrorism, noted in an interview with Tribune de Geneve in 2017 that “we’re no longer seeing imported jihadism. A hotbed of Swiss jihadists is being created … made up of people who grew up in Switzerland”.

    The problem was present in the Lake Geneva area where, according to a Le News story citing a recent study from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, “the region’s overall rate of 2,7 radicalized inhabitants per 100 000 residents is 69 percent higher than the Swiss average of 1,6”.

    This research also revealed that the majority of jihadists in Geneva were raised in Switzerland — 35 percent were Swiss-born, while 21 percent arrived before the age of 12, and 10 percent between the ages of 12 and 18.

    Moreover, reported Le News, “French-speaking Switzerland is home to only 24 percent of the nation’s total population, but 42 percent of Switzerland’s known jihadists.”

    But Winterthur – a German-speaking city – is one of the areas in which some of the 11 suspects were arrested, and it has also been known as a hotspot for Islamic extremism. Four of the minors were arrested in Zurich. They are aged between 15 and 17, while the other, also a teen, was arrested in Bern.

    The suspects are thought to be supporters of either Islamic State or al-Qaeda and will be facing charges of participation in a criminal organisation.

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