2006 Swiss Domestic Security Report
Press Release, fedpol, 31.05.2007
Bern. Islamist-motivated terrorism remained an element of threat to Western Europe throughout 2006. Occurrences of last year speak a clear language; for example, Islamist terrorists attempted an attack in Germany in late June 2006. The attempt failed, however. In Great Britain, British security forces thwarted what was presumably planned to be multiple attacks. Besides terrorism, a wide array of other issues were of concern to Swiss domestic security in 2006.
The 2006 Swiss Domestic Security Report, published today by the Federal Office of Police, depicts the developments in terrorism, violent extremism, illegal intelligence, and nuclear proliferation. The report also examines trends in economic and organized crime, and in crime in general. The findings presented in this report are analyzed and evaluated with regard to their effect on Swiss domestic security. In addition, the report ventures a forecast of possible tendencies and suggests measures apt to counter unwholesome developments.
The Al Qaida threat
A single individual can go on a jihad mission without ever having had any particular training in combat skills or tactics. Any such person may strike seemingly out of nowhere and without extended periods of preparation. They live among us, keep a low profile, and may strike at any time―in Europe too. While this fact has been known for years, previous assessments of the original Al Qaida’s capacity―or incapacity, for that matter—for staging attacks had to be revised in the course of 2006. In fact, the original Al Qaida has proved to be quite capable of orchestrating terrorist attacks. Further findings yielded that Switzerland served Islamist players advocating terrorism as a haven to retreat to and from where to plan further operations. In addition, Switzerland has also shown to be a logistical place and a place for Islamist propaganda.
Apart from its geographical location in the midst of the Western European terrorist hazard zone, Switzerland meets all the requirements that make it a potential target of terrorist attack. First, jihadist consider this country being hand in glove with those who they believe have conspired against Islam; second, Switzerland is home both to devote and to militant Islamists. However, there has been no solid proof to date of preparatory activity leading to a terrorist attack in Switzerland.
Iraq remained the chief theater of operations of jihadists in 2006. While terrorism took the heaviest toll on the Islamic world and its people, Swiss citizens, too, fell victims to terrorist attacks at Dahab, a small town situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula . One Swiss citizen was killed and another seriously wounded.
Unstable political situations as well as overt and latent conflicts in other parts of the world affected Switzerland too: the fighting in Sri Lanka, conflicts over domestic policy in Turkey, and tensions in Kosovo left the respective foreign and ethnic communities in Switzerland not indifferent. Accordingly, political activist groups stepped up fundraising or violent propaganda in 2006.
Increasing number of left-wing extremist motivated incidents
Left-wing extremist related incidents increased in 2006 by 62 percent from the year before. Accountable for this substantial increase were unauthorized sympathy demonstrations in support of what were alleged to be political prisoners. These demonstrations were accompanied for the most part by damage to property.
The protests took place mainly in connection with the growing significance of the International Red Aid, an organization that gained in importance in 2006. It coordinates left-wing extremist activities throughout Europe, especially in Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland. Zurich is home to one of the organization’s two secretariat generals, which is run by the Revolutionärer Aufbau Zürich. This organization advocates terrorism as a legitimate means of combat. It remains unlikely, however, that European left-wing terrorism will reached the peak of violence that it had reached in the 1970s and 1980s.
Adherents to the right-wing extremist movement in Switzerland were repeatedly reported for violence. There was no marked increase in the number of reported incidents, however. Again, only thanks to comprehensive policing measures was it possible for the annual Swiss Independence Day festivities on August 1 in Rütli to take place in 2006.
On the political front, the Party of Nationally Oriented Swiss (PNOS) unabatedly continued its right-wing politics. The party established three new chapters in 2006 but failed to repeat the success in elections it had in the years before.
Violence and organized crime
In 2006, Switzerland witnessed criminal activities by people and structures from various origins and geographical areas, most notably by mafia-like groups and ethnic Albanian criminal gangs active in the heroin and prostitution racket. While criminal gangs from the area of the Commonwealth of Independent States were noted especially for their involvement in money laundering, criminal West African networks were found to be active in cocaine trafficking and in a variety of frauds. The number of thefts of non-ferrous metals, specifically copper, increased considerably in 2006, causing damage in the millions of Swiss francs, and the economy in particular suffered from a rise in the number of Internet crimes.