Fighting terrorism: Indictment filed against two suspects. Major terrorist attacked by Turkish Police
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment in the Federal Criminal Court against a Swiss-Tunisian dual national and a Swiss national resident in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The suspects are alleged to have attempted to travel to territory held by the terrorist organisation “Islamic State (IS)” in the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq in order to join IS. The Swiss-Tunisian dual national is also accused of recruiting two members for IS, including his Swiss co-accused.
The suspects have been indicted for violating the Federal Act on the Proscription of the Groups “Al-Qaeda” and “Islamic State” and Associated Organisations (SR 122). The OAG opened the criminal proceedings in February 2016. Both suspects were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention in 2016 at Zurich Airport on their return from Turkey to Switzerland, the Swiss national in June 2016 and the Swiss-Tunisian dual national in August 2016. Both were later released from pre-trial detention subject to alternative measures (Art. 237 Criminal Procedure Code).
Attempt to travel to the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq in order to join IS
According to the indictment, the Swiss-Tunisian dual national traveled from Switzerland to Turkey in October 2015 and the Swiss national in December 2015 with the aim of heading on to Syria and joining IS in the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq.
Before their departure, the two suspects identified with the ideology of IS and were in contact with other persons radicalized with the IS doctrine. Both suspects were part of a group of several persons that underwent training in Switzerland and France in order to prepare physically for joining IS in the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq.
In Turkey the suspects made use of the IS network to obtain logistical support and advice. This included being able to stay in an IS safe house in Turkey, being introduced to a person who could smuggle them over the border, and being given false papers. In addition, the Swiss-Tunisian national received permission from IS intermediaries for both suspects to head into IS-held territory. Both suspects are also charged with supporting IS financially during their stay in Turkey.
The suspects were eventually stopped by the Turkish authorities from travelling on to Syria and later expelled to Switzerland, where they were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on their return
Two persons recruited for IS by the Swiss-Tunisian dual national
The Swiss-Tunisian dual national is also accused of indoctrinating his Swiss co-accused with the ideology of IS and of supporting his co-accused logistically with integrating into IS. According to the indictment, he introduced his co-accused to a group of individuals radicalised in the IS doctrine and integrated him into this group. He also brought his co-accused into the group that provided training to prepare persons physically for joining IS. Furthermore, he supported his co-accused in relation to his journey from Switzerland to Turkey, by giving him advice and introducing him to a person in Turkey who provided accommodation for IS recruits waiting to cross the border with Syria and enter IS-held territory.
The Swiss-Tunisian dual national is further accused of indoctrinating a second person with the ideology of IS and supporting this person logistically with integrating into IS. This second person is a Tunisian-French dual national who is also the subject of OAG criminal proceedings. According to the indictment, the Swiss-Tunisian dual national introduced him to a person convicted in Belgium of being an IS member, who obtained false identity documents for the Tunisian-French dual national to enable him to travel to join IS. The OAG’s criminal proceedings against the Tunisian-French national are currently suspended, as this suspect was expelled to France at the end of 2017 by fedpol in consultation with the OAG. Any questions with regard to this expulsion should be addressed to fedpol, which is responsible for the matter.
The indictment now being filed is in line with the policy of prosecuting anyone in Switzerland who tries to participate in Jihadist-motivated terrorism or supports such terrorism by spreading propaganda. Currently the OAG is conducting around 70 criminal proceedings related to Jihadist-motivated terrorism. These cases mainly involve allegations of spreading propaganda, recruiting persons for terrorist organisations or funding terrorist organisations, and investigations into Jihadist-motivated travellers, including those who have returned to Switzerland.
As is customary, the OAG will announce the penalties that it is proposing at the main hearing before the Federal Criminal Court. With the filing of the indictment, the Federal Criminal Court becomes responsible for procedural matters and for dealing with enquiries from the media. The presumption of innocence applies until a legally binding judgment has been issued.