Accessibility links

Community Service, Not Jail For Swiss IS Returnee


Smoke rises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from IS militants in late November.

Smoke rises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from IS militants in late November.

A Swiss national who fought with the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria will not go to prison, local media reported on December 10.

Instead, in a precedent-setting ruling that contrasts sharply with the harsh penalties imposed by other European courts, a Swiss court sentenced the 30-year-old man to 600 hours of community service. He will also receive counseling from a psychiatrist.

According to local media, the man, who has not been named, went to Syria to fight for Islamic State in December 2013. He spent two weeks in a training camp but returned to Switzerland three months later, after deciding he wanted to quit. The man claimed that Islamic State militants imprisoned him before he managed to leave.

Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service estimates that around 25 Swiss nationals have gone to Syria and Iraq and that 10 are fighting with groups including Islamic State.

In October, Switzerland issued an initial six-month ban on Islamic State membership, in a move to deter Swiss citizens from joining the extremist group. The sweeping ban includes all propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising activities.

Heavy Sentences For Returning IS Militants Elsewhere In Europe

Elsewhere in Europe, courts have handed down much stricter sentences against returning Islamic State militants. In neighboring Germany earlier this month, a court in Frankfurt sentenced a 20-year-old German national to three years and nine months in prison. The man, 20-year-old Kreshnik Berisha, spent six months in Syria last year, fighting with Islamic State in Aleppo province.

On December 4, a court in Britain handed down prison terms of over 12 years to two British men who fought with Islamic State in Syria. Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both from Birmingham in the West Midlands, spent eight months in Syria. A judge described the pair as "committed and dangerous terrorists."

Their lawyers said that they had decided to return to the U.K. to escape from the "increasing dominance" of the Islamic State group.

France has also imposed harsh penalties for fighting with Islamic State. In November, a court sentenced 28-year-old Flavien Moreau to seven years in prison after he traveled to Syria to fight with Islamic State. Moreau remained in Syria for around 12 days before returning home because he missed smoking, BBC reported.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

Subscribe

XS
SM
MD
LG