ISIS leader charged over plotting Swiss terror attacks

Iraqi man was linked to international network of extremists

epa08361100 People enjoy the sun on the shore of Lake Biel during the state of emergency of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Biel, Switzerland, Monday, April 13, 2020. Countries around the world are taking increased measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease.  EPA/ANTHONY ANEX
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A high-ranking ISIS member who allegedly plotted terrorist attacks on Swiss soil has been charged with a number of terrorism offences.

The Iraqi man, who has not been named, is accused of operating as a recruiter and trafficker for ISIS in Switzerland.

Swiss federal prosecutors said the man had held a "position of authority" in the extremist group.

The charges against him were filed on Tuesday, the Office of the Attorney General said.

"The suspect held a position of authority in relation to other ISIS members, some also high-ranking, and functioned as a recruiter, trafficker, cash-provider and as the recipient of instructions from leading ISIS members," it said.

Its investigation uncovered an extensive network involving the man and more than 20 other alleged ISIS members in Switzerland, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Finland and another location as yet unidentified, it said.

The man, who has been held in Switzerland since May 2017 awaiting trial, is alleged to have agreed to prepare attacks in Switzerland, the OAG said, adding it had no indication an actual attack had been imminent.

Switzerland has not experienced deadly militant attacks that have hit neighbouring countries such as Germany and France, but has identified hundreds of residents deemed a threat and cases of extremists who have left the country for war zones.

Latest figures released by the Swiss Federal Office of Police reveals that almost 100 extremists travelled from the country to conflict zones.

The security services believe 31 have been killed and 16 have returned to Switzerland.

In January, Turkey deported three foreign terrorist fighters back to Switzerland.

Last year former Swiss soldier, Hanna Johannes Cosar, was prosecuted for fighting against, rather than with, ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.

Cosar, who had commanded a Christian militia fighting ISIS in Syria, was convicted of breaching Swiss neutrality.

Switzerland bans fighting for another country without first obtaining permission from the government.

He was a former sergeant in the Swiss Army, whose family had moved to Switzerland from Syria three generations ago.