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‘Jihadi tourist’ Woman jailed for trying to join Islamic State

The woman in question arrives for her trial in Bellinzona on Friday


A woman from Winterthur has been given a partially suspended 18-month jail sentence after she tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The 31-year-old appeared before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzonaexternal link on Friday. Prosecutors had called for a two-year jail sentence for violating the Swiss law that bans Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

The woman converted to Islam in 2009 and was radicalised over the internet when she was living in the Swiss city of Winterthur in the north east of the country. In December 2015, she took her then four-year-old son to Egypt and Syria, via Turkey, where she allegedly enrolled with IS.

She was later arrested in Turkey and sent back to Switzerland where her travel documents were confiscated in early 2016. According to prosecution documents, she promoted jihad to others once she was back in Switzerland. She wanted to “set an example to potential imitators”, prosecutors claimed, and said martyrs would earn a place in heaven if they blew themselves up in Western cities.

Because Swiss law outlaws membership of IS and other terrorist groups, she was convinced that Switzerland was at war with IS, according to the original indictment. 

Prosecutors had also argued that she had endangered the life of her son, saying that he had no choice but to follow his mother.

The defence had called for the woman's acquittal, arguing it was not possible to attribute a call to violence to her.

The woman will go to prison for six months, but the rest of her sentence is suspended over three years. The court also ordered psychotherapy treatment. In addition, the woman's passport, identity card and driving licence will remain confiscated until March 2018. 

Another case concerning a ‘jihadi tourist' in Switzerland resulted in a man being given an 18-month suspended jail sentence by the Federal Criminal Court in 2016.

+ Read more about this case here and agencies/ilj

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