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Rogue warriors

Swiss jihadists thought to be in Syria

Are there Swiss jihadists in the mix? (Keystone)

Are there Swiss jihadists in the mix?


Switzerland’s secret service suspects that about ten Swiss people have gone to battle in the Syrian conflict. Up to 11,000 individuals from 74 nations are thought to have become opposition fighters in Syria.

As spokesman Felix Endrich told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Thursday, it is unclear whether the individuals are indeed jihadists or simply adventurers. His office is keeping a close eye on jihadist travellers as they might undergo training abroad and become radical.

“Those who return are very dangerous, as well as those who recruit in Switzerland. We are monitoring the situation,” Endrich said.

It is possible to travel to Syria either directly or via other countries, making it difficult to keep tabs. However, Endrich pointed out that not everyone headed for Syria was a radical Muslim.

Nine months ago, Endrich’s office didn’t have any confirmed evidence of jihad travellers on their way to Syria. On Thursday he said that there had been an increase in the number of such trips, as well as trips to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to a December 2013 study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, based at King's College London, up to 11,000 individuals from 74 nations have become opposition fighters in Syria – nearly double their previous estimate in April 2013. Among Western Europeans, the number has more than tripled from from 600 in April to 1,900 now. The main recruiting countries in Europe are France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

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