Jihadist (illustration)
Jihadist (illustration) Thinkstock

Swiss federal prosecutors said Saturday they had opened criminal proceedings against a board member of Switzerland's largest Islamic organization accused of propaganda for jihadist groups, including Al-Qaeda.

The office of Switzerland's attorney general said in a statement it had "opened a criminal proceeding against a member of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), as well as against persons unknown," for violating "the prohibition of groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State [ISIS] and similar organizations."

The German citizen is suspected of creating "for propaganda purposes" a video from a trip into parts of war-ravaged Syria, "without having explicitly distanced himself from Al-Qaeda activities" in the country, the statement said.

The man, who was not identified, had, among other things, interviewed "a senior member of the jihad umbrella organization Jaysh al-Fath ("Army of Conquest"), of which the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra ("Support Front") is also a member," it pointed out.

AFP reports that ICCS could not be immediately reached for comment.

The announcement Saturday came a day after the Swiss government said it was significantly boosting the wealthy Alpine nation's counter-terrorism forces, amid a heightened security alert in the wake of the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

Authorities in Geneva have since last week been searching for possible extremists with links to ISIS, with reports that US intelligence had identified a jihadist cell in the city.

In what appeared to be a separate case, two Syrians were arrested in Geneva last week after traces of explosives were found in their car.

The attorney general's office said Saturday that the criminal proceedings against the ICCS member were opened on December 9.

The move shows "the rigorous prosecution brought against all persons in Switzerland who attempt to take part in jihad-motivated terrorism, or who support this by means of propaganda," it said.

It also pointed out that it was currently in the midst of 46 criminal proceedings "in conjunction with the topic of jihad-motivated terrorism," adding that most of these cases were linked to "suspected propaganda support of terrorist organizations."

The attorney general's office highlighted that in October it had filed charges against four Iraqis accused of "preparing a terrorist attack".