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Terrorism watchlist New intel leads to more suspected jihadist cases

The Swiss federal prosecutor is receiving more tips of suspected jihadis

(Keystone)

The office of the Swiss attorney general says it has opened nearly a dozen new investigations into potential adherents of jihadist groups over the past two months.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told NZZ am Sonntag there were now a total of 33 such investigations underway including the new cases that are “related to Islamic terrorism”.

"Above all we are looking to find out if there are cases of support provided to a criminal organisation and if the ban on the Islamic State group has been violated," he was quoted as saying.

He said, however, none was considered as serious as a suspected cell of the militant Islamic State (IS) group that Swiss authorities dismantled last year.

In that case, three Iraqis between the ages of 28 and 33 were arrested in the northern canton of Schaffhausen in March and April 2014 on suspicion of planning an attack with explosives and toxic gas. They also allegedly helped about 40 jihadists in Switzerland travel to join IS in the regions it controls within Syria and Iraq.

The Federal Intelligence Service was tipped off by a western counterpart that intercepted the men’s phone calls. The investigation expanded to include a fourth Iraqi in July 2015 and marked the first time that Swiss and US officials activated a 2006 treaty to establish joint counterterrorism teams.

More and more intel

The new cases mainly involve support or web-based propaganda for jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Swiss authorities decided that when new intelligence is received, they should err on the side of caution.

"The awareness of the terrorist threat has increased everywhere, which is why more and more information comes to us," said Lauber.

"I have decided that the office of the Swiss attorney general should systematically open a criminal proceeding in case of doubt,” he said, adding that his office would not hesitate to use spy software – a legally grey area – if necessary. "When it comes to terrorism, I interpret the law to safeguard security".

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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