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Swiss woman faces trial over 'Islamic State' knife attack

2020 stabbing took place in luxury store, years after suspect 'fell in love' with militant and attempted to travel to Syria
Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court
A Swiss flag flies in the front of Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court in the southern Switzerland city of Bellinzona on 8 July 2022 (AFP)

A Swiss woman will face trial on Monday, accused of attempting to slit the throats of two women in a department store in southern Switzerland in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group, years after allegedly attempting to travel to Syria

The alleged attack took place on 24 November 2020 in a luxury shop in Lugano, a city in the Ticino region bordering Italy. 

One of the victims sustained a serious neck injury, while the other was wounded on one hand but managed to control the assailant, with the help of others, until police arrived. 

The accused, who was known to the police, allegedly shouted "Allahu akbar" and "I will avenge the Prophet Mohammed", declaring "I am here for IS". 

"She brutally attacked her randomly selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the 'Islamic State', triggering widespread reports in the media and thus propagating IS ideology," the Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland (OAG) said in the indictment. 

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It is alleged that the suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons, attempted to travel to Syria after "falling in love" with a militant over social media in 2017, but was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland. She was admitted to a psychiatric clinic shortly after. 

The 29-year-old is charged with attempted murder, violating laws against association with militant groups and unlawful prostitution.

The trial is taking place at the Federal Criminal Court in the Swiss town of Bellinzona, with a verdict expected on 19 September. 

Weeks before the 2020 attack, a Turkish-Swiss national who had attempted to travel to Syria in 2019 fatally stabbed a passer-by on a street in Morges, western Switzerland. 

Swiss nationals are among detainees from some 60 countries in the al-Hol and al-Roj detention camps run by Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria. 

More than 60,000 people, two-thirds of them children, are held in the camps for families associated with IS fighters.

In December, two Swiss half-sisters, who are both minors, were repatriated to Switzerland without their mother, an alleged Islamic State sympathiser who took the two girls to Syria in 2016. 

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