Swiss authorities keep quiet on anti-terror activities

Swiss authorities keep quiet on anti-terror activities

Sat, Oct 21st 2023

After attacks abroad, the fear of terrorism is also keeping Switzerland on its toes. However, the security authorities are keeping a relatively low profile – probably also to avoid alarmism. Many activities are taking place in the background and are not visible.

Several of Switzerland’s neighboring countries have raised their terror alert levels in recent days. Airports have been closed and police forces have been put on heightened alert. In some cases, a state of emergency prevails.

In Switzerland, there have been various threats and police operations over suspicious objects in recent days. Several cities imposed bans on demonstrations. Otherwise, everyday life seems to be going on as usual.

Behind the scenes, however, things are different, as employees of the federal and cantonal authorities have revealed. The wires between the agencies responsible for security are running hot. There are special meetings, increased coordination – especially at the operational level.

Federal Council security committee active

A survey by the Keystone-SDA news agency of around a dozen authorities shows that many offices are keeping a low profile. Questions about concrete decisions taken on the subject of the terror threat were mostly not answered.

Justice Minister Elisabeth Baume-Schneider communicated most aggressively on Thursday on the sidelines of the EU interior ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg. In view of the Middle East conflict, she said, the level of security and attention to possible threats to Switzerland had been set at a maximum. Without being specific, the Federal Councillor confirmed that various embassies and infrastructures in Switzerland had been placed under protection.

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Not much more information came through from the federal administration. Federal Council spokesman André Simonazzi announced that the Federal Council’s security committee had dealt with the events in the Middle East at an extraordinary meeting on October 10. The Federal Council as a whole is also dealing with the topic. However, he could not provide any information on the content of these discussions.

“Extraordinary situation not given”

“We feel the tense atmosphere,” a cantonal representative said in response to a question. However, an extreme situation is not present, he said. The official statement of the Conference of Cantonal Police Commanders (KKPKS) confirms this: “An extraordinary situation, which requires the coordination of police resources throughout Switzerland, does not exist at the moment,” it said.

The cantonal police corps are responsible for the protection of religious institutions and private individuals. They conduct an ongoing assessment of the situation and adjust security arrangements accordingly, according to the general response from the KKPKS.

The parliamentary services, responsible for operations at the Federal Palace, also did not comment in detail on the security concept: “As you will surely understand, we cannot provide information on concrete security measures,” a spokeswoman let slip.

No concrete indications of attack targets

The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) was somewhat more specific: The assessment of the terror threat has not changed in recent days, the media office wrote. “The FIS assesses the terror threat to Switzerland as increased.”

The most plausible terror scenario for Switzerland at present, he said, is an act of violence perpetrated by a jihadist-inspired individual with a simple modus operandi. However, the intelligence service had no indications of concrete plans for attacks in Switzerland.

The Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) was cautious: “We do not comment on concrete existing or possible measures in order not to influence their effect.” The fact is, however, that not all security measures are visible.

In response to the question of whether increased security measures were currently in place at the federal asylum centers, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) wrote that the security concepts and processes were currently being reviewed and – if necessary – adapted.


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