Man indicted for jihadist knife attack in Switzerland 

The 28-year-old Swiss-Turkish dual national, who lives in canton Vaud in western Switzerland, has been charged with murder and violation of the Al-Qaeda/IS Act. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment against a Swiss-Turkish man who fatally stabbed a man in the Swiss town of Morges in 2020 in a “jihadist-motivated” attack. 

This content was published on June 16, 2022

The 28-year-old Swiss-Turkish dual national, who lives in canton Vaud in western Switzerland, has been charged with murder and violation of the Al-Qaeda/IS Act, as well as arson, and an attempt to cause an explosion, among numerous accusations, the OAG saidExternal link on Thursday.

It said that on September 12, 2020, the suspect fatally stabbed a 29-year-old Portuguese man near Morges train station as part of a planned “Jihadist-motivated attack with the aim of exacting revenge for the victims of the war between the coalition states and the Islamic State (IS)”.

He reportedlyExternal link attacked the man at around 9pm in a kebab restaurant in the town west of Lausanne. The victim, who died at the scene, lived in the area and worked in a transport and removal company. He was with his girlfriend when the attacker came at them with a knife. After a night on the run, the suspect was arrested the following day by cantonal police.

The suspect is also accused of several other offences prior to the Morges attack. These include possessing IS-related material, supporting IS by sharing propaganda material and attempting to join IS in the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq. He also faces a charge of violating the Narcotics Act.

According to the indictment, in April 2019 the suspect travelled to Italy with the intention of continuing to Turkey and then to Syria. However, when he reached Italy he decided to return to his home in Switzerland.

He is also accused of attempted arson and an attempt to cause an explosion at a petrol station at Prilly, near Lausanne, in April 2019. According to the indictment, he planned to set fire to the petrol station in the name of IS, but was unable to carry out the crime.

The suspect had reportedly been known to the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) since 2017 “for the consumption and dissemination of jihadist propaganda”.

The man has been held in custody since his arrest on September 13, 2020. While in detention, he also attacked and attempted to kill a guard in November 2020. He is also accused of attacking a federal police officer the same month.

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

Jihadist inspired cases

The indictment published on Thursday follows a similar jihadist-inspired stabbing in canton TicinoExternal link the same year. In May, federal prosecutors 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. 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 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 last Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) annual security report, published in June 2021, said the terrorist threat in Switzerland “remains at a heightened level”.  

The main risk is from jihadist actors, principally 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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