Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland files indictment against one person for providing support to IS and the Al-Qaeda

Bern, 17.04.2023

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment in the Federal Criminal Court against a 25-year-old Swiss citizen. He is alleged to have recruited several persons for the so-called Islamic State (IS) or encouraged them in their support for IS. In addition, the indictment states that he promoted IS and Al-Qaeda by spreading propaganda and was involved in a coordination and management role in collecting donations for IS. Furthermore, he is charged with acquiring and distributing prohibited representations of acts of violence. Finally, he is also accused of fraudulently claiming to have been involved in an accident and thereby unlawfully obtaining daily allowance payments under an accident insurance scheme.

The alleged offences and the suspect
The OAG has charged the suspect, who is resident in the canton of Zurich, with multiple counts of violating Article 2 of the Federal Act on the Proscription of Al-Qaeda and Islamic state and Associated Organisations (the ‘AQ/IS Act’), multiple counts of acquiring and distributing representations of acts of violence (Art. 135 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)) and fraud (Art. 146 SCC).

The suspect is a returnee from the area controlled by IS in Syria who has already been convicted in Switzerland with full legal effect of violating the AQ/IS Act. He was arrested in October 2019 in a coordinated operation* and was held in pre-trial detention from that point until July 2020. He was then released from detention on condition that he remain subject to various alternative security measures.

Multiple violations of the AQ/IS Act
In this part of the indictment, the OAG makes the following allegations against the suspect:

  • Recruiting several persons for IS, or alternatively encouraging several persons in their support for IS: According to the indictment, the suspect was part of a group of persons from the Zurich area with leanings towards the IS ideology, playing a key role within the group in that he had a decisive influence over the other persons. The OAG alleges that he strengthened the beliefs of various members this group that they should support IS, reinforced the group’s community spirit, and attempted to enlist new members and to enlarge the group of IS followers.He is primarily alleged to have done this by playing propaganda glamourising IS to several persons in the group or urging these persons to play IS propaganda. Furthermore, it is maintained that he recommended that members of the group read IS publications, encouraged them to engage with the IS ideology and advised them on how to find IS channels and videos. In addition, it is alleged that he urged them to spread the IS body of thought.According to the indictment, the suspect exploited the prestige he had gained as a returnee from IS territory in Syria. In addition, he is said to have used his extensive knowledge of IS matters and his broad network of IS exponents and IS supporters in Switzerland and other countries to bring the members of his group closer to the IS ideology and to connect like-minded people with each other.
  • Spreading propaganda for IS and Al-Qaeda: The suspect is charged with disseminating several video and image files containing IS and Al-Qaeda propaganda via social media. He is alleged to have done this with the aim of glorifying the two proscribed organisations, demonstrating their strengths and portraying life in the territory under their control as a desirable goal.
  • Collecting donations for IS: The suspect also faces charges in court relating to collecting donations for IS; he is said to have been involved in this in a coordination and management role. It is alleged that he collected a total of CHF 9,000.00, passing the money on to intermediaries for the purpose of supporting the families in Turkey of IS combatants who had been killed and to secure the release from detention of relatives of deceased IS combatants.

The OAG alleges that the suspect by his criminal acts increased the appeal of IS and Al-Qaeda to existing and potential members or supporters and that he supported these groups in carrying out their criminal activities.

Representations of acts of violence
In addition, the suspect is alleged to have acquired several video and image files with prohibited representations of acts of violence and posted these on social media, thereby making them accessible to other persons. As a consequence, the suspect will have to answer the charge in court of portraying prohibited representations of acts of violence.

Under this charge, the suspect is alleged to have falsely claimed to various doctors that he had been injured in an accident. He is said to have submitted the accident certificate he had obtained by fraud to a Swiss accident insurance company and thereby to have unlawfully obtained daily allowance payments amounting to around CHF 15000.

From now on, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona becomes responsible for answering any further media enquiries. As is customary, the OAG will announce the penalties that is proposing at the main hearing before the Federal Criminal Court. The presumption of innocence applies until a final judgment has been issued.

*OAG press release dated 29.10.2019, available on the OAG website