Swiss woman indicted for jihadist terror stabbings in Lugano 

The stabbings took place just after 2pm at the Manor department store in Lugano on November 24, 2020. Keystone / Pablo Gianinazzi

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment against a Swiss woman who attacked two people with a knife in a department store in the Swiss city of Lugano in 2020. 

This content was published on May 18, 2022 - 13:26

The 29-year-old, who lives in canton Ticino in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland, has been charged with attempted murder and violation of the Al-Qaeda/IS Act, the OAG saidExternal link on Wednesday.  

It claims the suspect “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of Islamic State (IS)”. 

According to the indictment, the suspect “acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness”.  

“She brutally attacked her randomly selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the “Islamic State” (IS), triggering widespread reports in the media and thus propagating IS ideology,” it stated. 

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries in the attack. The second, helped by others at the scene, overpowered the suspect and detained her until the police arrived. 

The woman has been held in custody since her arrest on November 24, 2020, the day of the attacks. She has also been charged with unlawful prostitution.  

The main hearing will take place at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, canton Ticino. 

Alleged jihadist ties

Police investigations in 2017 revealed that the woman had formed a relationship via social media with a jihadist fighter from Syria and had tried to meet him in Syria. 

At the time, Turkish authorities turned her back from the border to Syria when she tried to travel there to meet the man and returned her to Switzerland, the police said. 

It said the woman was suffering from mental health problems. After returning to Switzerland, she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic. 

The last Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) annual security report, published in June 2021, said the terrorist threat in Switzerland “remains at a heightened level”.  

It is mainly determined by jihadist actors, principally by lone perpetrators acting autonomously, increasing numbers of whom have psychological problems, the report said. 

“The killing in Morges on September 12, 2020, and the attack in Lugano on November 24, 2020 were both inspired by the jihadist movement. In both cases, knives were used and the perpetrator’s distressing personal situation and psychological problems played a role,” it said. 

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