Skip to comments.Swiss Hold 8 Over Saudi Suicide Bombs
Posted on 01/09/2004 6:35:24 PM PST by blam
Swiss hold 8 over Saudi suicide bombs
Alison Langley in Zurich, and Brian Whitaker
Saturday January 10, 2004
The Swiss authorities have arrested eight people in connection with suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia. The arrests on Thursday were part of a national operation by 100 police officers who raided homes in Geneva, Bern, Zurich, Vaud and Aargau and questioned about 20 suspects.
Those arrested are suspected of providing logistical support for a series of attacks by Islamic militants on housing compounds in Riyadh last May which killed 35 people, including nine assailants.
Officials said all the suspects were foreigners, but refused to disclose their nationality or give any other details.
The investigation is thought to have been triggered by the arrest in Pakistan last March of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. "Inquiries identified incoming and outgoing calls from Khaled Sheikh's phone," the Saudi daily al-Watan reported last month.
As a result Swiss federal prosecutors obtained the names and phone numbers of people living in Switzerland who had been in contact with him.
The Swiss authorities then obtained court permission to listen in to relevant phones, according to court records obtained by several Swiss newspapers. Andrea Sadecky, the spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office, would not say whether information from those calls led to the arrests.
A UN report last month criticised Switzerland for failing to prevent support reaching Osama bin Laden's network and the Afghan Taliban. It alleged that Switzerland was being used as a revolving door for weapons smuggling and that money for terrorism was passing through the country.
The report focused on two businessmen in Switzerland, Youssef Nada, an Egyptian, and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, of Ethiopian descent. Both are linked to businesses allegedly involved in financing al-Qaida.
Last month the Swiss authorities found evidence linking Bin Laden and al-Qaida's alleged deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to Swiss bank accounts during the 1990s.
The federal prosecutor's office confirmed a newspaper report that Bin Laden was the beneficiary of an account at a Zurich branch of Switzerland's largest bank, UBS. In 2002 the Swiss police searched the offices of eight companies with links to Yeslam Binladin, the half-brother of bin Laden.
· The US lowered its terror alert level from "high" to "elevated" yesterday as officials said that an urgent threat had passed.
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