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Islamic State Jihad losing appeal, says Swiss intelligence chief

Since 2001, 77 Swiss have left the country for conflict regions to take part in jihad


According to Markus Seiler, head of the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), hardly anyone from Switzerland wants to join the Islamic State (IS) anymore. 

In an interview with the German-language paper Berner Zeitung on Saturday, Seiler claimed that interest in IS has dropped significantly over the last six months. 

“The fascination with the war in Syria has diminished considerably, the IS has lost its lustre. Moreover, thanks to greater attention from neighbouring countries, it has become more difficult to travel undetected to these crises in the Middle East,” he said. 

Since 2001, 77 persons left Switzerland for conflict regions in the name of jihad. According to Seiler, many of them have joined terror groups and are actively involved in fighting. So far, FIS is aware of the deaths of 21 such Swiss jihadis, of which 14 are confirmed and seven unconfirmed. 

Seiler expressed his concern over jihadis returning to Switzerland even though there has not been a wave of returnees yet. 

“Leaving the IS is not as easy as getting to the IS,” he said. 

Seiler warned that one should not underestimate the possibility of jihadis entering Switzerland under the guise of refugees. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) provides the FIS with thousands of names of migrants and refugees every year to minimise this risk. 

Currently around 400 people are on the FIS radar.

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