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Al-Qaeda on the internet Kurdish asylum seekers face terrorism charges

The extremist cleric Mullah Krekar heads the terrorist ring suspected in the Swiss case

The extremist cleric Mullah Krekar heads the terrorist ring suspected in the Swiss case

(Keystone)

Two brothers of Kurdish origin are being prosecuted by the Swiss authorities on charges of being involved via the internet with an Islamic terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda.

The asylum seekers are accused of setting up internet platforms that were designed to attract new members to the recently formed terrorist organisation, issue propaganda, pass on messages to the al-Qaeda network and disseminate details of terror attacks.

In addition, the brothers are alleged to have downloaded videos of executions and stored them on their computers.

According to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office, the unnamed terrorist organisation was headed by Kurdish extremist cleric Mullah Krekar, who is currently being held in prison in Norway for unrelated offences.

The primary objective of the newly formed group was to raise new recruits to the al-Qaeda network via a series of online chat rooms, according to prosecutors. The elder of the brothers is said to hold senior positions within the group and to have passed messages between Mullah Krekar and terrorists in Iraq.

Both brothers, who came to Switzerland from Iraq, are accused of having composed a number of articles and appeals that were posted on the websites.

Swiss base

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court is currently hearing appeals against previous rulings to overturn the brothers’ refugee status and end their asylum applications.

In its annual report published in June of this year, the Federal Police Office (fedpol) confirmed that suspected jihadists continued to use Switzerland as a base for supporting Islamist groups by placing online propaganda and incitements to violence.

Six experts have been employed specifically by the Swiss government to keep an eye on jihadism on the internet.

The Swiss authorities have opened investigations into other similar allegations of aiding and abetting terrorism, but this is believed to be the first criminal action involving al-Qaeda.

Prevention measures

There is a low threat of terrorism in Switzerland, according to a  2012 intelligence services report. However a dozen people have been clocked heading toward jihadist camps and there are unconfirmed reports they have returned. 
 
Preventative surveillance of radical and Islamist networks remains a challenge. Under current law, the Swiss intelligence services cannot tap telephones or do surveillance of homes without an official order.
 
The cabinet will put out to consultation a project on this issue to boost prevention, the defence ministry announced in May.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies


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