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Fighting terrorism

Suspected jihadist will not recover Swiss passport

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has upheld the decision of the Swiss Attorney General’s Office to confiscate the Swiss passport and identifying documents of an alleged Swiss-Lebanese jihadist. He was arrested at Zurich Airport in April last year.

On Thursday, the Bellinzona-based court confirmed that the 26-year-old man is suspected of supporting the Islamic State (IS) militant group. He was intercepted by the Federal Office of Police and Zurich cantonal police in April 2015, while preparing to board a flight for Istanbul, Turkey.

The court said there was strong evidence that he was on his way to Syria or Iraq. After his arrest, investigators discovered IS symbols on the man’s laptop, as well as photos of jihadi soldiers and propaganda material glorifying violence, death and martyrdom.

Between September and December 2014, the court said he had been in contact with a Winterthur man who had left with his girlfriend for Syria; both have since returned. He was also in contact with another person who left for Istanbul and Syria in February 2015.

Police also discovered evidence of a phone call between the man and his girlfriend in which he confided to her his desire to die a martyr.

According to the latest monthly update released in January by the Federal Intelligence Service, a total of 73 jihadi suspects – 28 Swiss - have left Switzerland for conflict zones since 2001. Of these, 59 travelled to Syria or Iraq and 14 to Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan. In all, 16 have since reportedly died, and 13 have returned to Switzerland.

Brothers lose appeal

Meanwhile, the Federal Court in Lausanne on Thursday dismissed the appeal of two Kurdish brothers, who were tried and sentenced by the Federal Criminal Court in 2014 for spreading terrorist propaganda, supporting a criminal organisation, and forgery.

The pair had received asylum in Basel before the Federal Department of Justice and Police discovered in 2008 that they had been managing online forums linked to jihadi networks. One brother received a custodial sentence of three years and three months, and the other received a suspended two-year sentence.

The two men appealed their sentences on the basis that the information used in the criminal investigation against them had been obtained illegally, but the Federal Court has dismissed the claim. 

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