The director of Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), Markus Seiler, confirmed on Saturday that the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris had no links to Switzerland despite evidence of coordination between French-speaking jihadists in Europe.
“To date, no link has been proven,” said Seiler in an interview with the Le Temps newspaper. “The important thing is to work with our partners to piece together the networks, prevent further attacks and follow leads that could lead to Switzerland.”
Seiler warned that the challenge was to “detect individuals in time susceptible of committing such acts” because it was fairly easy to manufacture explosives using “limited means”.
He called for a common database among European intelligence services to identify threats and pointed out that certain legal challenges remain when it comes to information sharing.
“The FIS currently lacks the [legal] basis,” he said, referring to Swiss laws that prevent intelligence sharing with transit or conduit countries that have a poor human rights record.
“If a source sends us a dozen names, we can check and inform them if they are in our files or not. But our own databases, with names of potential terrorists, cannot be exchanged. You see the problem.”
Parliament approved a law last year giving the Swiss intelligence service greater powers to monitor private communications in Switzerland, but critics have pushed through a referendum to challenge the decision.
The FIS had identified six people with Swiss ties among the list of Islamic State fighters released to foreign media. The identity of one of them, a person of North African origin who spent 11 months in the country, is still unclear. In total, 58 people have left Switzerland to fight in Syria and Iraq. Twelve have been killed.
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