A dozen people who left Switzerland to fight in jihadist conflicts are now believed dead, according to the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS).
Of these, seven have been officially confirmed, the FIS said in figures published on its website and flagged up in the Swiss media on Fridayexternal link.
The FIS report for Julyexternal link shows that overall 66 people have left the country for a jihadi cause since 2001: 52 went to Iraq and Syria and 14 travelled to Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan.
The FISexternal link says that of the ten Jihadists alleged to have returned to Switzerland, only five cases could be confirmed.
Reasons given for this were uncertainly over the real motivation behind the trips and/or uncertainty about where the people in question had been. “The FIS is investigating these unconfirmed cases further,” it said.
“The FIS will not be releasing further details as to the identity, age, sex, nationality and place of residence of these persons.”
The number of people travelling abroad for a jihadi cause from Switzerland has risen in recent years: between 2001 and May 2013 the FIS recorded 20. Between May 2013 and May 2014 this figure had doubled. By the end of June 2015, this was 63.
Cases which made the headlines include a 25-year-old man who was arrested in early April this year before a planned trip to the region of Iraq and Syria where he intended to join the Islamic State terror group, according the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. The arrest came as the result of a police investigation. He was the first suspected Jihadist to be prevented from travelling abroad.
Switzerland has been pushing for more coordinated ways of preventing and countering terrorism at all levels of the United Nations, as well as in the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Council of Europe.
When he was Chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter made the fight against terrorism a priority.
On February 26, 2015, an FIS task force said Switzerland should do more to thwart jihadists, with possible new measures including a hotline number or even the grounding of outbound travellers.
swissinfo.ch and agencies