Terror threat remains high in Switzerland, warns Federal Intelligence Service

In Switzerland, the terrorist threat is "heightened, but while it is among the countries viewed as legitimate targets by jihadists, it is not top of their list", the FIS wrote. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Terrorist attacks inspired by the Islamic State group remain likely in Europe, with Switzerland not invulnerable to such threats, says the Federal Intelligence Service.

This content was published on October 27, 2020 - 13:09

“In Switzerland, the terrorist threat is heightened, but while it is among the countries viewed as legitimate targets by jihadists, it is not top of their list,” the FIS wrote in its annual report, Switzerland’s Security 2020,External link which was published on Tuesday.

The first half of 2020 has seen more acts of jihadist-motivated violence in Europe than 2019, the majority of them attacks carried out by lone perpetrators with knives, it wrote.

“The recent homicide in Morges, canton Vaud, on September 12, 2020 presumably fits this pattern,” it added. If found to be so, it would be the first terrorist attack in Switzerland since 2011, and the first jihad-motivated attack on Swiss soil, FIS noted.

An investigation is underway into the fatal stabbing of a 29-year-old Portuguese national in Morges in western Switzerland. The suspect confessed, saying that he acted in the name of jihadism, according to Swiss public radio, RTS.

He had been released from prison in July, having been under surveillance for possible links to Islamist terrorism. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is working with the cantonal authorities, the Federal Police Office and the FIS to clarify the circumstances.

The federal justice authorities say they are currently running about 70 criminal proceedings against suspected jihadists. As for people leaving Switzerland to fight abroad, the last such case was recorded in 2017. There have been no instances of people motivated by jihadist ideology returning from Syria or Iraq since 2016.

The annual report also described the potential for violence which continues to exist among left-wing and right-wing extremists in the Alpine nation.

“Within left-wing extremist circles, violence can take the form of marked aggressiveness at demonstrations that are instrumentalised for their own ends,” it wrote.

“Right-wing extremist circles are currently showing restraint in their use of violence. But there are indications that some of them train in combat sports and possess weapons. In Switzerland, the main risk of attack could come from individual perpetrators who are not members of established groups.”

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