– Winterthur youth and gray eminence arrested on terrorism charges
In a coordinated action in Winterthur, St. Gallen and Lucerne, and in Germany, the police arrested four people. One of them is the convert Winterthur Silvio Z.
Published: 06/14/2022, 21:30
A soldier removes the plaque with the logo of the Islamic State grouping in Iraq, 2017.
Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye (AFP)
A federal prosecutor’s investigation began in December 2021. The handcuffs closed on Monday night. As a result of coordinated action by the German and Swiss authorities, four people were arrested and seven houses were searched. The three arrested in Switzerland were in contact with each other. In addition, they apparently had contact with the gray eminence of the IS cell, a man who was also arrested Monday night in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. About it informs the prosecutor general. The 60-year-old is a German of Pakistani descent.
The federal prosecutor’s office is currently conducting criminal proceedings against two adult suspects, aged 20 and 26. Criminal proceedings against a third person arrested in Switzerland are conducted by the Youth Prosecutor’s Office in Winterthur – he is a 17-year-old. Two adults were accused of breaking the ban on al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups. Then he suspects the federal prosecutor’s office of supporting and participating in IS.
The newspaper’s research shows that one of the three arrested in Switzerland is 20-year-old Silvio Z. (name changed). He converted to Islam a few years ago and lives in a transitional apartment belonging to the city of Winterthur. People who would otherwise be homeless live there.
A visit of bearded men
The next day, there’s nothing left to see from the police operation in early Monday night. But Silvio Z’s neighbor opens the door and talks. “When I got home, the police were everywhere,” he says. The entire floor was fenced off. He had to lock himself in the apartment and was not even allowed to go out on the balcony for a cigarette break.
Silvio Z.’s apartment is closed. The federal prosecutor’s office refuses to say what exactly he is accused of. A neighbor tells about a young man who obviously belongs to “those Islamheins.” Silvio Z. was repeatedly visited by bearded men from the canton of St. Gallen. There, according to the federal prosecutor’s statement, police operations were carried out in connection with the arrests. A neighbor says it wasn’t the first police operation at Silvio Z’s apartment. A year and a half ago, the police broke down the door with a battering ram, says the neighbor. The November 2020 incident coincides with the attack in Vienna, for which the Islamic State is responsible.
The arrested 26-year-old should also be known to the authorities. He was in custody for several months in connection with the attack in Vienna. During that time, an IS terrorist shot and killed four people and injured two dozen.
A few months earlier, 26-year-old Simon F. (name changed) from Winterthur had visited a killer from Vienna with a fellow IS sympathizer from Winterthur. There was no evidence of complicity between them and the federal prosecution had to drop the criminal proceedings.
Like Silvio Z., Simon F. converted to Islam long ago and in 2018, he went with his wife to Cairo to learn Arabic and study the Koran. Later, they both lived on the outskirts of Istanbul, according to research by this newspaper. He is believed to be the second person arrested. A few guidelines correspond to the insider’s statements in this regard.
So now there is a new criminal case. Based on a statement by the federal prosecution, it seems clear that the arrested persons were of interest to the intelligence services even before an investigation by the federal prosecutor’s office in December.
The federal prosecutor merely claims that the authorities involved worked closely together in the “Joint Investigation Team” at the national and international levels. The purpose of the proceedings is to explain the charges against the accused, their roles and intentions.
The fourth person arrested in Germany is Aleem N. In 2020 he went to Turkey. According to the German prosecutor general, the 60-year-old wanted to continue his journey to IS in Syria from there. But the trial ended in Turkey. Aleem N. returned at the end of October 2020. In Germany, he continued to support IS. “He conducted extensive propaganda activities for the association,” writes the federal prosecutor general. Aleem N. translated texts, videos and audio news from Arabic into German and shared them on social media. In January 2022, Aleem N. attempted to travel to IS again. This attempt was also unsuccessful.
German terrorism expert Rolf Tophoven at the Alpine Symposium in Interlaken. In his opinion, IS remains dangerous.
Photo: Peter Schneider (Keystone)
“Broken but Not Defeated”
The activities of the IS do not surprise the German expert on terrorism and writer Rolf Tophoven. “The Islamic State was crushed but not defeated,” he says when asked. The organization remains dangerous. Recruitment is ongoing, mainly in Africa and Asia. Cells still exist in Syria and Iraq. There are no terrorist training camps there anymore. However, there are currently attempts to explain to potential supporters that attacks through online training are possible and effective. Dozens of phone calls go out every day.
Tophoven says: “PI has been sidelined in the media because of the war in Ukraine. But that was not why he disappeared or became harmless. “
Fitting in this picture is the fact that in Austria the focus is on the IS cell, which is linked to plans to attack important events in Europe. This was reported by the Austrian news agency APA. The Swiss Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office says there was “no direct link” between the action in Switzerland and that in Austria.
Published: 06/14/2022, 21:30
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