Nearly 400 possible jihadists surveilled by Swiss intelligence

Switzerland's intelligence service NDB director Markus Seiler (L) speaks to the media next to Swiss Defence Minister Guy Parmelin during a news conference in Bern, Switzerland May 2, 2016 © Ruben Sprich
Switzerland’s intelligence service has been keeping an eye on the social media activity of around 400 people potentially linked to jihadists who could pose a threat to national security, Swiss authorities reported on Monday.

Although Switzerland is less likely to be targeted by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) or other militant groups since it is not engaged in any military operations against them, its government still stepped up security measures to counter possible attacks, especially in the wake of deadly terror acts carried out in neighboring France and Belgium, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) annual report said.

The document features a photo of a Swiss passport and an explosive belt along with a hashtag “#homesweethome” posted on Twitter by a suspected jihadist who had supposedly traveled to the Middle East.

The NDB has also come into possession of an IS video showing the Swiss flag among 60 others that belong to the countries regarded as targets.

“Attacks in Switzerland are more to be expected from lone wolves or small groups that would be conducted with simple means, little preparation and minimal logistical effort,” the report states.

Possible jihadists have been closely watched by the security services upon their arrival from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, where they could have undergone training in special camps.

The current level of threat to the country’s security has been described as “high” by NDB’s chief Markus Seiler, who spoke to journalists in Bern on Monday, local media reported.

Switzerland still has up to 60 active proceedings against individuals allegedly linked to jihadists, according to information made public on Monday.

Last month a Swiss court sentenced three migrants from Iraq to prison on the ground of terrorism offenses. It is hoped that the verdict will deter other possible attackers and demonstrate that Switzerland is not an easy target.

The three Iraqis were arrested in 2014 on the suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack and assisting Islamic State militants with entering the country.