Dramatic events in 2011 such as the shootings in Norway and France or the bombing of a café in Marrakech, causing the death of two Swiss citizens and a foreign national residing in Switzerland, evoked a feeling of deep shock worldwide. All these acts of terror were planned and executed by individuals who had become radicalised online.
Although Switzerland was directly affected by the attack in Marrakech - which is currently under investigation both in Switzerland and in Morocco - it was not itself a target of attack by individual radicals. No terrorist acts were carried out in Switzerland, nor was there any evidence to suggest plans or preparations for an attack. As the attacks in Norway, France and Morocco illustrate, detecting or preventing such occurrences in time is extremely difficult.
Monitoring radical websites
Switzerland, too, has its share of violent extremists who use the Web for their own purposes, uploading increasing quantities of propaganda, videos containing scenes of brutal violence, and instruction manuals on, or calls to, violence. Jihadists, in particular, misuse Switzerland as a base for providing foreign jihad groups with logistical support and for spreading propaganda.
Thanks to an increase in staffing levels, fedpol has been able to intensify its monitoring of radical - mostly jihad-orientated - websites and to investigate more criminal acts since 2011. It has also launched several investigations against the operators of websites containing such material. In view of the restricted legal scope of Swiss legislation aimed at fighting terrorism, investigating such acts of assistance - especially those conducted online - is a major challenge.
Presence of the Italian Mafia in Switzerland is a reality ...
The presence of Italian Mafia organisations in Switzerland is a reality. Switzerland's financial market is attractive to Mafia organisations both for investment purposes and as an area of retreat. The `Ndrangheta is still the Mafia organisation with the strongest presence in the country and has been pushing its sphere of influence ever further north in the last few years. The geographical shift towards Switzerland is linked, amongst other reasons, to the increasing pressure being applied on the Mafia by Italian law enforcement agencies.
To help combat the Mafia effectively, fedpol further strengthened its operative collaboration with the Italian police in 2011. A joint working group analyses crime trends and exchanges intelligence, its focus being especially on asset recovery and developing appropriate investigation methods. This co-operation enables fedpol to gather data on organised crime and its structures, with the aim of protecting industry, public authorities and the service sector from infiltration by organised crime groups.
.. so, too, is human trafficking
Human trafficking, illegal migration and migrant smuggling remain a huge challenge. As in previous years, Switzerland is a transit and target country for illegal migrants. Victims originate predominantly from Eastern Europe, Brazil, Thailand or West Africa. To prosecute traffickers and smugglers successfully, close international co-operation is essential. For this reason, fedpol strengthened and expanded its contacts in 2011 with eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.
The increase in the number of cases of suspected trafficking in 2011 shows that investigating this type of crime is difficult because victims are reluctant to report it. Individual cases are usually only reported if the victim is under enormous pressure. Victim and witness protection is extremely important because victims and witnesses in danger from acts of revenge have to be afforded protection outside of judicial proceedings, both during and after conclusion of the trial. To take on this task, fedpol is currently establishing a national witness protection office, which should become operative in 2013.
Note for editors: Fedpol's director, Jean-Luc Vez, and other members of the Directorate are available to answer journalists‘ questions today from 1.30 to 2.30 p.m. in the small hall of the Federal Palace Media Centre.
Media Service fedpol, T +41 31 323 13 10