Swiss parliament to boost security with anti-terrorism bollards

The Federal Palace in the Swiss capital of Bern is to get extra security in the form of a dozen stone bollards, it was revealed on Friday.

Swiss parliament to boost security with anti-terrorism bollards
An illuminated Federal Palace in Bern in 2017. File photo: AFP

The permanent bollards made of stone will be placed on the footpath in front of the main entrance of the heritage-protected historic building which is home to both houses of the Swiss parliament.

Their placement is designed to stop terror attacks involving vehicles, Swiss national broadcaster SRF reported on Friday.

The move comes in the wake of security advice from Switzerland’s Federal Police (Fedpol).

Fedpol spokesperson Florian Näf told SRF the decision to place the bollards comes in the context of ever-growing visitors to the recently restored Federal Palace and an increased threat of terrorism across Europe.

The Federal Palace attracts around 100,000 visitors a year – around double the number before the building was restored a decade ago.

The Bundesplatz square in front of the Swiss parliament building is also a popular gathering place for tourists and locals and is regularly the site of both events and protests.

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Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

Four suspected members or sympathisers of the Islamic State group have been detained in Germany and Switzerland in a cross-border operation, prosecutors from the two countries said Tuesday.

Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

In Switzerland, three people were picked up in the cantons of Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne, national authorities said, adding that seven further searches were also carried out.

The suspects, whose identities were not released, are accused of “participation in or support for the outlawed organisation Islamic State”.

In Germany, a man was detained in the western town of Roemerberg, federal prosecutors said.

Identified only as Aleem N., he is “strongly suspected of preparing a serious violent attack threatening the security of the state and of belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation”.

He is believed to have attempted to travel from Germany via Turkey to Syria in September 2020.

“In Syria, the suspect wanted to join the foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State, attain military training and then take part in combat or terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

However, Aleem N. was unable to reach Syria for reasons that were not immediately clear and returned to Germany.

“At the latest in April 2021 he joined Isis in Germany and carried out vast propaganda activities for the group,” prosecutors said.

His duties included “mainly translating official texts, videos and audio messages by Isis from Arabic into German and distributing them on various Telegram channels in German-speaking areas”.

“Isis considered such activities to be equivalent to taking part directly in violent jihad,” it added.

The suspect is also believed to have taken part in a telephone conversation with Isis leaders in late 2021 to “verify his reliability” before travelling to “IS zones of operation”.

However, “a further attempt” to reach Syria in January 2022 “failed again”.

Aleem N. was to appear on Tuesday before a federal judge who will decide whether to remand him in custody.

German intelligence services estimate that more than 1,150 people have travelled from Germany to Iraq and Syria since 2011 for Islamist reasons.

More than a third have since returned to Germany, while at least 270 have been killed in Iraq or Syria.

“A low three-digit-number” are currently detained in the two countries, according to the intelligence services’ 2021 report.