Swiss police: member of Spanish terror cell visited Zurich

At least one of the suspects involved in last week’s terror attacks in Spain visited Switzerland last December, Swiss federal police (Fedpol) have said.

Swiss police: member of Spanish terror cell visited Zurich
Tributes are laid on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, where one of the attacks took place. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
Speaking to AFP, Fedpol spokeswoman Cathy Maret said: “We are aware of a night in a hotel in the Zurich region in December 2016.
“We don’t know the reasons for this visit to Switzerland. It is too early to give an in-depth analysis about the nature of any potential direct links with Switzerland.”
Police did not name the person involved, nor the Zurich hotel they visited. 
However, according to Spanish media, two of the attackers visited Zurich at the time: one who was killed by Spanish police after the attack at Cambrils; and another who was fatally injured in an explosion at a house in Alcanar south of Barcelona on August 16th, the day before the attack on the famous boulevard Las Ramblas in the Catalan city. Police believe the cell was using the house to prepare explosives to use in a much bigger attack than the one that killed 15 in Barcelona and Cambrils. 
Since the deadly attacks last Thursday questions have arisen over the 12-man terror cell’s possible international connections.
Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam believed to have radicalized some of the cell’s members, and who was killed in the Alcanar blast, is thought to have spent several months in Brussels in 2016. 
And the car used to mow down people in Cambrils was detected by a speed camera in the Paris region days before the Spanish attacks.
The proposed legislation, in consultation until October, would help to combat the recruitment and training of terrorists, increase jail sentences for offenders and make it easier for investigators to share intelligence with other countries. 
For members


UPDATE: Woman jailed for nine years for knife attack on Swiss shoppers

In a rare case of alleged Islamist "terrorism" in Switzerland, a woman was jailed for nine years on Monday for the brutal knife attack on two shoppers at an upscale department store.

UPDATE: Woman jailed for nine years for knife attack on Swiss shoppers

A Swiss woman accused of slashing two people in the name of the Islamic State group in an upmarket shop
was sentenced on Monday to nine years prison coupled with psychiatric treatment.

The criminal court judges found the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, guilty of two counts of attempted murder, and of violating the Swiss laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related Islamist groups.

The woman, who has not been named, tried to slit the throats of two women shopping at the Manor store in Lugano, in Switzerland’s southern, Italian-speaking Ticino region on November 24, 2020.

The attacker, 28 at the time, was accused of committing a “jihadist knife attack” and had “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS” (the Islamic State group), the attorney general’s office said earlier this year.

Random victims

On the day of the attack, the woman had gone to Manor’s kitchen supply division on the fifth floor, picked out a large bread knife and approached a random woman standing nearby.

Grabbing her from behind, the assailant plunged the knife at least 10 centimetres into her throat, missing her main carotid artery “by a few millimetres”, the court heard. 

As she screamed “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) and “I will avenge the Prophet Mohammed”, she struck the victim to the ground, and then moved on to a second woman, stabbing the knife towards her face and shouting “I am here for

The second woman suffered defensive wounds to her right hand, but managed with help from others to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness,” prosecutors said, maintaining that she had acted “with the aim of killing (her victims) and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’.”

Mental health problems

Police quickly discovered the alleged assailant had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

After “falling in love” over social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria, she had attempted in 2017 to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, but was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, it is alleged.

Upon her return, she was deemed to have mental health problems. She was admitted to a psychiatric clinic and fell off the security police radar until the attack three years later, police said.

The assailant had reportedly once been married to a Muslim asylum seeker and had converted to Islam.

‘Very rare’

Experts said the trial marked a rare event, pointing out that such attacks are almost unheard of in the wealthy Alpine country.

Switzerland has never experienced a large-scale terror attack, though it did suffer two other individual knife attacks in 2020 by people with suspected jihadist ties.

“In Switzerland, it’s been very random and very rare that we have people that conduct terrorist attacks,” Christina Schori Liang, a terrorism expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, told AFP.

It is even rarer that the alleged jihadist attacker is a woman.

“Isis has never claimed an attack carried out by a woman,” Damien Ferre, founder of the Jihad Analytics group which analyses global and cyber jihad, told AFP.

While there were reports of women carrying out attacks in the battle for Mosul in Iraq in 2004, he stressed that “it was never proven and the group did not communicate about it.”