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Potential jihadists Task force: Prevention key to disarm threat within

Imam Mustafa Memeti speaks at a newly opened mosque in Bern last year.

(Keystone)

A special task force has concluded that the Swiss government should consider establishing a national body to more closely monitor and prevent the threat of Islamic radicalisation in the nation’s midst.

Indeed, prevention is seen as the key to dealing with the potential for radicalising youth in Switzerland in a report issued by the task force TETRA (Terrorist TRAvellers) on Monday. In a nutshell, the report recommended better coordination to establish a more robust national response to the problem.

“The establishment of a national body, as a competence centre dealing with religious issues of national importance from both cantonal and communal authorities and Muslim associations, should be examined,” the task force said.

The government-appointed task force, created to coordinate action against terrorism and jihad-related travel, also recommended that the nation’s 26 cantons “should know the names” of imams working in Switzerland. In addition, the government “should examine the desirability and possibility” of monitoring the finances behind religious foundations

The task is headed by Nicoletta della Valleexternal link, a Swiss lawyer who was appointed director of the Swiss Federal Office of Police in August 2014. Earlier this year, in April, she said there is no link between the terror attacks in Brussels and Switzerland and she deflected criticism of the country's anti-terror capabilities.

National and cantonal strategies

The task force uncovered no Swiss links to the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels claimed by the Islamic State. However, its report on prevention measures – mainly focused on what can be done beyond the arena of usual national security precautions – puts forward some new proposals to improve monitoring and collaboration.

“Radicalisation poses a challenge to the whole of society, a challenge that goes far beyond the sole competence of security services,” said a statement from André Duvillard, a veteran police official who serves as delegate for the Federal National Security Networkexternal link, which issued the report.

“Indeed, many unsafe actors are in direct contact with the population. We can identify some early trends towards radicalisation and can counter these last through preventive measures.”

The task force surveyed areas such as Swiss education, social life and religion for existing preventive measures against radicalising youth. Its report concluded that the country must take “a broader approach” that integrates efforts and exchanges of information on local, regional and national levels – with support from political leaders.

Since the internet and social networks play an important role in radicalisation, for example, more focus should be put on the media skills of young people, parents and teachers.


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