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Personnel records


Files reveal Swiss links to Islamic State fighters


At least four jihadist fighters with connections to Switzerland have been uncovered in Islamic State personnel files that have been obtained by the media.

The huge haul of papers documenting 22,000 IS recruits was first seen by German reporters before being handed to Swiss public television, SRF, and the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. They give real names, the fighting pseudonyms of individuals, their religious experience, family details, where they are from and have lived and whether they have volunteered as fighters or suicide bombers.

Journalists are convinced that the personnel files are real having tested some of the details, such as telephone numbers. Independent experts have also said the files appear to be genuine. The documents date from between August 2013 and March 2014.

Two of the Swiss-based individuals were previously known to the authorities, as SRF’s 10vor10 programme showed.

The two previously unknown fighters are a 45-year-old man, originally from Egypt, who also lived in the Lake Geneva area before volunteering as an IS fighter.

The file also list a 39-year-old married man with two children who lived for 11 months in Switzerland before being recruited to IS.

Apart from the fighter who is serving community service in Switzerland, the current location of the others is unknown.

The four are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Swiss jihadists fighting abroad. Last November the Swiss intelligence services said they were monitoring around 70 people who had either travelled abroad to take part in conflicts for the jihadist cause or were engaging in other suspicious activity.

In addition, Swiss intelligence said last summer that it believed that 15 jihadists with Swiss links were believed to have been killed in fighting.

While there has been some media suspicion that a handful of jihadists may have been radicalised at a minority of Swiss mosques, experts believe that the most common source of recruitment is the internet.

A recent Zurich University of Applied Sciences study into the radicalisation of Swiss youngsters looked at 66 cases recorded between 2001 and July 2015.

The team of 11 researchers found that 16 out of 66 cases were aged below 25. Most were aged 23-35. Only three women were reported, below European averages of 10%.

The majority of cases were born Muslims from former Yugoslavia and Somalia. Twelve were recently converted, half of Swiss origin. Twenty cases were radicalised via the internet, 13 claimed to have been influenced by war experiences, particularly in the Balkans, while 13 pointed to Salafist propaganda.
 

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