Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Switzerland
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism|
|Publication Date||30 April 2009|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Switzerland, 30 April 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49fac69c28.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The United States worked closely with the Swiss government, the Swiss Bankers' Association, the Swiss Interagency Counterterrorism Task Force, and cantonal law enforcement authorities. Swiss security services continued to monitor activities of terrorist groups with a presence in Switzerland and to coordinate with appropriate USG officials, though the scope of the coordination was limited. Swiss law severely restricted the level of information-sharing possible on banking issues.
On December 5, the Government of Switzerland extended, for the second time, its ban against al-Qa'ida (AQ) and its associate organizations for three years. The ban includes not only all activities by the organization itself, but also all activities in support of the organization. Approximately $16.6 million (SFr 20 million) in AQ and Taliban assets in 35 separate accounts remained frozen.
The Swiss government maintained a list of individuals and organizations connected with international terrorism or terrorist financing, in accordance with UN lists. On December 4, 2007, Switzerland proposed to the UN General Assembly a new process intended to enable better coordination in global counterterrorism efforts. Pursuant to this initiative, Switzerland and the other four countries have held a series of workshops and made recommendations for better coordinating the activities of the various UN bodies involved in the fight against terrorism. The recommendations were included in a resolution that the General Assembly adopted during the review of the UN counterterrorism strategy on September 4-5.
Along with the U.S. and UN lists, the Swiss Economic and Finance Ministries have drawn up their own internal list of individuals and entities connected with international terrorism or its financing. Swiss authorities have thus far blocked about 48 accounts totaling approximately USD 20.6 million from individuals or companies linked to individuals or entities listed pursuant to relevant UN resolutions. The Swiss Attorney General also separately froze 41 accounts representing about approximately USD 23 million on the grounds that they were related to terrorist financing, but the extent to which these funds overlap with the UN consolidated list has yet to be determined. As far as Taliban and AQ assets are concerned, on October 24, SECO wrote that 35 bank accounts totaling approximately USD 19 million were still frozen.
Counterterrorism activities were carried out by several police units: The Federal Criminal Police's Counterterrorism Unit focuses on AQ-related cases and employed 21 officials – 11 working on terrorism, nine working on terrorist financing, and a unit chief. Of the 130 employees who work in the Department for Analysis and Prevention in the Federal Office for Police, approximately twelve concentrate on counterterrorism matters, in addition to the roughly 85 cantonal policemen focusing on counterterrorism activities.
In practice, the Swiss government does not compile lists of prohibited organizations. The sole recent exception has been AQ, which is banned on the basis of UN Security Council decisions.
Due in part to increased antiterrorism activities in neighboring EU countries, several terrorist organizations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have a presence in Switzerland. Existing Swiss law and practice prevent the government from listing these entities as terrorist organizations.
The Government of Switzerland estimated there are 4,000 well-organized sympathizers of the PKK, in Switzerland and approximately 100 individuals in the PKK's central coordinating cadre. PKK's headquarters is located in Basel, but their activities also covered the Zurich area. Most of its activities in Switzerland consisted of media relations, training of management staff, and fundraising. In 2007, a group of about twenty Kurdish people raided the premises of various newspapers, radio and television stations in Basel, Bern, Biel, and Zurich, and an Amnesty International office. One year later, in October 2008, other Kurdish activists were strongly suspected by the Federal Office of Police (FEDPOL) of raiding a dozen Turkish cafes, travel agencies and other buildings in several Swiss-German cantons. FEDPOL managed to track several PKK-related messages claiming responsibility that were sent to Switzerland and abroad. Judicial investigations were ongoing at year's end. The Government banned fundraising events during Kurdish celebrations in November, such as the 30th anniversary of the founding of the PKK. It also applied a more restrictive policy on permits, including demonstration permits, residence permits, and Swiss citizenship applications.
In late September, French and Swiss police forces reportedly arrested twelve people belonging to the Mujahadin-e Khalq. They were involved in the financing of a terrorist organization linked to money laundering. Several persons were detained for judgment.
In addition to not designating the FARC as a terrorist organization, Switzerland designated Jean-Pierre Gontard, a Swiss professor, to act as Switzerland's designated mediator for the FARC over the past several years. Colombia expressed strong criticism against Jean-Pierre Gontard following Columbia's successful military operation on July 2, 2008, which released 15 hostages including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three American defense contractors. Colombian officials accused Jean-Pierre Gontard of exceeding his authority and of being a money courier for FARC based on documents found at the FARC camp and have since cut off all Swiss mediation efforts. The Swiss government defended Gontard, stating that his work was "strictly humanitarian."
In practice, Switzerland does not extradite persons based solely on their membership in a "terrorist" organization. However, terrorism and membership in a terrorist organization are illegal and subject to criminal penalties. Article 260 of the Swiss penal code defines a terrorist as someone who takes part in an organization that keeps its structure and membership secret and that has the purpose of committing violent crimes or of enriching itself by criminal means. Anyone who supports such an organization or participates in its criminal activities can be punished with up to five years in prison. The penal code also provides for punishment of those who commit criminal acts outside of Switzerland if their organization conducts its criminal activities partly within Swiss boundaries or plans to do so.
Switzerland, in conjunction with Liechtenstein, commissioned a study in November on the financing of terrorism.
In late June 2007, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission put Credit Suisse (CS), ABB, and Syngenta on its "black list" of companies suspected of indirectly sponsoring terrorist countries. Credit Suisse said that it was conducting a controlled withdrawal of its business from Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Sudan. ABB said that it no longer had dealings with North Korea, Burma, or Sudan and would review its business dealings with Iran if the U.S. sanction procedures changed.
As a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Switzerland continued to comply with requirements in the VWP law related to information sharing and other law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation. This cooperation was further enhanced by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.