Four Swiss investigated for jihad trips

An Indonesian journalist sits in front of a banner during a protest against the killing of journalists by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) Keystone

This content was published on September 7, 2014 minutes and agencies

The fact that Swiss jihadists are travelling to Syria and Iraq to join organisations like the Islamic State "certainly worries me” said Swiss Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber in an interview published on Sunday in the weekly Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

Switzerland is investigating four people whom it suspects travelled from Switzerland to Syria in order to join terrorists fighting there for an Islamic theocracy, Lauber said.

“We’re investigating these cases on suspicion of supporting a criminal organization and providing funding for a terrorist group.”

The Islamic State (IS) has been inspiring militants through its rapid capture of territory, beheadings and mass executions in Syria and Iraq. IS pamphlets and flags have also appeared recently in parts of Pakistan and India.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office – along with the immigration authorities, the intelligence service and the police – has been very vigilant, said Lauber. However, it does not maintain a blacklist of names of people to check for when they return to Switzerland.

“Whether they are potentially dangerous has to be determined on a case-by-case basis,” Lauber said.

Detaining people who are leaving the country is also only possible if it can be proven that the person provided financial or other support for a terrorist organization, he said.

A recent success, according to Lauber, was the decision in May by the Federal Criminal Court to sentence two men from Basel who had been distributing propaganda via the Internet.

In June the Swiss cabinet quoted figures from the Federal Intelligence Service claiming that around 40 people have left Switzerland to join the Jihadist movement in Syria. They face criminal prosecution if they return.  

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