The police have arrested a suspected Swiss jihadist at Zurich Airport, who was returning to Switzerland from Turkey, and opened a criminal inquiry, the Attorney General’s office has confirmed.
The Tribune de Genève newspaper reported on Wednesday that the 29-year-old had been arrested on August 9 after returning to Switzerland after nine months abroad.
The Swiss-Tunisian dual national, who is a resident of French-speaking Switzerland, is accused of ties to a terrorist organisation and has been placed in custody.
The arrest was made in connection with criminal proceedings that the Attorney General’s Office opened on February 19, 2016.
In the proceedings, the prosecutor’s office confirmed that a 21-year-old man from French-speaking Switzerland was also arrested on June 8, 2016 at Zurich Airport after returning to Switzerland from Turkey. He was also placed in custody.
The two men are accused of contravening article 2 of the Federal Act on the Prohibition of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Associated Organisations. They are also suspected of supporting and/or participating in a criminal organisation under Article 260ter of the Swiss Criminal Code.
“The arrests are proof of the consistent policy of prosecuting any persons in Switzerland who may attempt to become involved in Jihad-motivated terrorism,” Linda von Burg, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, told swissinfo.ch.
In July, a Swiss court sentenced a man to an 18 months suspended prison sentence after being arrested at Zurich airport trying to board a flight to Turkey. This was the first Swiss court case involving someone trying to leave the country for jihadi purposes.
Since 2001, 77 people have left Switzerland to fight in conflict areas, mostly Syria and Iraq, according to figures for July from the Federal Intelligence Service. Of these, 29 had Swiss citizenship – and of those 17 had dual nationality. At the end of July, 13 of the 77 cases had returned to Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch with agencies