Mideast Terror Link Suspected in Probe of Swiss Islamic Center

The trail of international terrorism against Jews has reached the Swiss city of Biel.

French and Spanish investigators asked Swiss police recently to probe an official at the Islamic Center of Biel, who is suspected of channeling money to the Al-Qaida terrorists who perpetrated an attack on a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, in April 2002. Twenty-one people were killed in that attack, most of them German tourists.

A spokeswoman from Switzerland’s Justice Ministry confirmed that Swiss police searched the Islamic Center, but she did not offer details for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.

For years, Israeli and international intelligence services have warned that Islamic organizations in Switzerland are funding international terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaida.

In January 1998, Israeli Mossad agents tried to wiretap the phone in a Bern suburb of a Swiss of Lebanese origin who, they believed, was a Hezbollah agent. The agents were caught when neighbors called authorities.

Israeli intelligence sources also told JTA that five years ago they suspected an Islamic center in Bern-Liebefeld of being a hub for terrorists.

Little action was taken until after Sept. 11. Swiss authorities cracked down on groups suspected of supporting and financing terrorism after President Bush released a list of organizations and persons in Switzerland and elsewhere suspected of having ties to terrorism.

Perhaps the best-known Swiss citizen on the Bush List is Ahmed Huber, a notorious Holocaust-denier who helps neo-Nazi groups in Europe collude with Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

Huber, an admirer of Hitler and Osama bin Laden, is under investigation in this most recent anti-terror probe, a spokeswoman at the general prosecutor’s office here told JTA.

In a related development, sources at Swiss banks in Bern said the flow of cash from Switzerland to Hamas, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine could not be stopped because Swiss authorities do not consider those groups terrorist organizations.

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