Switzerland, a Possible Target of Islamist Terrorism?

Once considered the safest country in Europe, if not the world, Switzerland is now a potential target of a terrorist attack. Why? In the past few months something has happened to this quiet and neutral country where outside of an occasional banking scandal nothing much went on; at least nothing that merited international focus. Recently, a slew of events all linked to radical Islamists appears to have shattered the tranquility enjoyed by this Alpine country. First, came a polemic over an incident akin to the Danish caricature saga; that was followed by new Wahhabi leadership at the Geneva mosque; and a then a prominent Wahhabi figure was denied entry, just to cite a few events. This, much to the chagrin of the Swiss, has placed Switzerland on the Islamists’ radar. Initially, holding on to its neutrality, the country kept its doors open to various Islamist groups. One person who took advantage of this freedom was Said Ramadan, founder of the World Islamic League and a major figure in the Muslim Brotherhood; he established the Geneva Islamic Center. One of his children, a prominent figure in the radical world of politicized Islam is Tariq Ramadan, born and living in Switzerland, until Oxford and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered him a job. His brother Hani, who has been involved in multiple controversies over his extremist speeches, is currently head of the Geneva Islamic center. Today, the stronghold of Islamists over the Geneva Muslim community continues unabated. At the end of March, four executives of the Geneva mosque were swiftly fired by the mosque’s new director, an imam recently arrived from Jeddah. Speculation has it that they were not radical enough. The new imam, Youssef Ibram, a Moroccan, trained first in his native country and then in Saudi Arabia, where he studied Islamic law for six years. Olivier Guitta reports.

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Master of Islamist doublespeak

The Swiss Islamic activist Tariq Ramadan has been invited by Griffith University to be the keynote speaker at its conference opening in Brisbane today. The fact that Australia is allowing Ramadan to enter the country at all will raise eyebrows in security circles elsewhere. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: the spiritual backers of al-Qa’ida and Hamas and whose goal is to Islamise the world. While it is, of course, unfair to tar someone with his grandfather’s views, there is ample reason to think that in the case of Tariq Ramadan the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Ramadan has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists. The Geneva Islamic Centre, with which he is closely associated, has been linked to terrorists of the Algerian FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) and the GIA (Armed Islamic Group). A Spanish police report claimed that Ahmed Brahim, an al-Qa’ida leader jailed in Spain, was “in frequent contact” with Ramadan, a claim he has denied. Yet the Swiss activist has not only been allowed into Britain but is ensconced at St Anthony’s College, Oxford as a research fellow and is much lionised by the British establishment, appearing at security seminars on Islamism and even serving as an adviser to the British Government on tackling Islamic extremism. So how to explain this wild divergence of views about Tariq Ramadan? And does Australia have cause to be concerned?