A young woman at the helm for a rare jihadist attack in Switzerland

A young woman at the helm for a rare jihadist attack in Switzerland

A 29-year-old Swiss woman with mental problems is on trial this week in Bellinzona (Switzerland) for “terrorist act“, for having tried to cut the throat of two women by proclaiming his support for the group Islamic State in a department store in Lugano in 2020.

One of the two victims was seriously injured in the neck. The second, injured in the hand, had managed to control the assailant with other people, until the arrival of the police. According to the indictment of the Public Ministry of the Confederation (MPC, public prosecutor), the young woman, who was 28 years old at the time of the facts and whose name the court does not want to be published, acted “intentionally” and “without any scruples“.

During the attack, she repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “I will avenge the prophet Muhammad», and declared «I’m here for IS“, in reference to the jihadist group Islamic State. “It brutally attacked its randomly selected victims with a knife with the aim of killing them and thus spreading terror among the population in the name of ISIS, triggering widespread media coverage and thus spreading the ideology of IS“, according to the MPC.

She was known to the police. From a Swiss father and a mother of Serbian origin, the assailant had converted to Islam, according to the newspaper 24heures. “Fallen in love” on social networks in 2017 of a jihadist fighter in Syria whom she had tried to join, she had been arrested at the Turkish-Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland and then placed in a psychiatric institution.

She is tried by the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona for “repeated assassination attemptsand violating the section of federal law banning the jihadist groups Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. In particular, she is accused of having wanted to commit a “terrorist actin the name of IS. She must also answer to the accusation of “repeated illicit practice of prostitutionbetween 2017 and 2020.

Homegrown terrorism

The defense assured that they would rely on his mental state to refute the motive “terroristand plead attempted homicide. Judgment is expected on September 19. Switzerland has never experienced a large-scale jihadist attack but two knife attacks in 2020: a few weeks before Lugano, a young Turkish-Swiss national, who had sought to travel to Syria in 2019, had fatally stabbed a passerby in a street in Morges (west).

According to assessments by the Federal Intelligence Service (SRC), the terrorist threat is still high in Switzerland, although it has not recently recorded any travel by radicalized people, for example to Syria or Iraq. “We find that the individuals who take action are radicalized people who grew up in Switzerland without ever having been in a conflict zone.“, explains the federal police. “They become radicalized on the internet, most of the time on cats and closed forums, but also in groups and associations. This is called terrorism homegrown (local)“Assures this source to AFP.

According to her, while stabbings are not a new modus operandi, they have multiplied in recent times. “The attacks of November 2020 in Lugano and September 2020 in Morges are proof of this, as are those abroad – for example the attack on Salman Rushdi“, Estimates the federal police, evoking terrorism”low-cost“. As Christina Schori Liang, terrorism expert with the international foundation Geneva Center for Security Policy, explains, this “The modus operandi of the new terrorists does not necessarily require large attacks, just enough to instill fear and terrorize the public.»


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