Switzerland: Terrorism remains a threat

Islamic-inspired terrorism is still a threat in Switzerland, according to an internal Swiss security report published on Thursday. The Federal Police Office's annual report said that the country was in the "danger zone" in western Europe and that it was also used as a logistical and propaganda base. In the past few years it has become clear that militant group al-Qaeda is still able to carry out attacks in western Europe, often using untrained individuals and at unexpected times, said the Police Office. It added that Switzerland was known to be a logistics, preparation, propaganda centre, and retreat for extremist groups . But the report noted that there were other reasons, apart from its geographical location, why Switzerland could become the target for a terror attack. "Individual supporters of Jihad [Holy War] see Switzerland as part of a plot against Islam," said the Police Office in a statement. "At the same time, according to our current information, there are active Islamic fundamentalists in Switzerland, among them extremists ready to use violence." But the Police Office said that there was as yet no clear proof that concrete preparations for an attack were being carried out in Switzerland. Other influences Other crises and conflicts are also having a direct influence on Switzerland, it was noted. This included the tensions in Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kosovo. Switzerland has a large immigrant population from Sri Lanka and Kosovo. The report said politically active groups from these areas had been collecting money to fund propaganda campaigns. Jacques Baud, a Swiss security expert, said that the situation in Switzerland was fairly similar or even a bit better than in its neighbouring counties. "There have been no attacks on our soil; Islamic fundamentalist militancy is not very developed and right and left-wing political extremists remains relatively low key," Baud told swissinfo. He added that the calmer situation in Switzerland was linked to the country's recent history. "Compared with France and Germany, we have not experienced a huge immigration of populations in which religious extremism could develop," said Baud. Extremist scene In terms of other concerns, the report found that the rightwing extremist scene within Switzerland had remained relatively stable in 2006, but that incidents linked to the extreme left had risen by 62 per cent since 2005. It said the main reason for this was the huge increase in the number of unofficial demonstrations of solidarity in support of alleged political prisoners. The Police Office director, Jean-Luc Vez, said that the role of Swiss left-wing extremists in international incidents should also be monitored. Nevertheless, the Police Office said that it did not consider the internal extremist scene to be a real threat to Swiss security. As for economic crime, internet offences had increased, it was reported. Switzerland was also affected by international crime groups in Switzerland, especially mafia-style organisations active in heroin and prostitution (Albanians), money laundering (former Soviet-bloc countries) and West Africa (cocaine, swindling).
Source: Swissinfo (English)

See also: Switzerland: Terrorist plot to shoot down Israeli plane, Switzerland: Arrests made

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