Can Swiss authorities deal with terrorist attacks?

Beznau nuclear power plant in northern Switzerland comes under attack in the simulation Keystone

The Swiss government, cantons and cities will carry out a 52-hour exercise starting on November 11 on coping with a terrorist threat involving a nuclear malfunction and blackmail. Around 2,000 people will be involved. 

This content was published on October 31, 2019

“Switzerland is a safe country, but it too must be prepared,” said Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter on Thursday, presenting the scenarioExternal link for the 2019 integrated security exercise (see box).

“This is not alarmism, rather crisis prevention,” she said. 

+ How ready is Switzerland for a nuclear disaster?

The security structures and processes will be put to the test in the event of a prolonged terrorist threat with attacks on critical infrastructure, blackmail demands and imminent attacks. 

The defence ministry announced that around 70 organisations across Switzerland would contribute to the exercise. The aim is to examine how the security organisations involved can cope with a crisis and how they can work together in a tense situation. 

The exercise is based on Switzerland’s counter-terrorism strategy, which the government developed four years ago in cooperation with the cantons. 

The first exercise took place in 2014. The scenario then was an emergency situation with a shortage of electricity and a flu pandemic.

The scenario

The perpetrators of a terrorist attack on Geneva have been sent to prison. Ahead of the second anniversary of the attack, there’s a malfunction in the Beznau nuclear power station. The “Global Liberation Front” (GLF) says in a video that it is responsible and that such events will get worse unless the prisoners are released immediately. 

The fictitious GLF aims to break the industrialised, capitalist West through terror and violence and take power to create a state “without possessions or greed”. The GLF manipulates public opinion via internet trolls and cyberattacks. News portals and social media are flooded with false reports.

-          propaganda, political blackmail and cyberattacks
-          critical infrastructure is threatened
-          attacks against crowds with multiples deaths and injuries

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