‘Emir of Winterthur’ Convicted in Swiss Jihadist Trial

September 11, 2020Updated: September 11, 2020

ZURICH—A man dubbed the “Emir of Winterthur” was sentenced to 50 months in prison by a Swiss court on Friday after being convicted of supporting the ISIS terrorist group and recruiting for it.

Prosecutors had said the Swiss-Italian dual citizen, whose name has not been released publicly, traveled to ISIS-controlled areas of Syria in 2013, where he joined an ISIS-aligned combat unit.

Upon returning to Switzerland, the now 34-year-old defendant capitalized on his reputation as a warrior to motivate several people to join ISIS, prosecutors said, calling him “a Salafist guiding figure in Switzerland” who liaised with several convicted ISIS recruiters from Europe.

He had pleaded not guilty to charges of supporting and participating in a criminal organization and violating a ban on representations of acts of violence but was convicted after a trial.

Winterthur is the suburb of Zurich where he lived and ran a training gym.

Several media outlets said the Federal Criminal Court also fined a second defendant with Swiss-Macedonian dual citizenship who was charged with attempting to travel to ISIS territory to join the organization and with recruiting one individual for ISIS.

The court did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of the verdicts.

Broadcaster SRF said the main suspect had told the court he had briefly embraced jihadist ideology but had since had a change of heart and regretted the episode. He said he had traveled to Syria to provide humanitarian assistance.

Switzerland has not experienced deadly militant attacks like those that have hit neighboring countries such as Germany and France, but has identified hundreds of residents deemed a threat and cases of jihadi travelers who have left Switzerland for war zones.