Investigators have concluded that Switzerland was likely used as a base for financing and logistical support for the Sept. 11 attacks by al-Qaida, the country’s attorney general said Thursday.
Federal Prosecutor Valentin Roschacher said authorities plan to begin court proceedings in the coming weeks in three terror cases, capping investigations started four days after the 2001 suicide hijackings in New York and Washington.
A special task force initially was charged with investigating Mohammed Atta, the alleged leader of the hijackers. Atta reportedly spent several hours in Zurich in July 2001 en route from Miami to Madrid, Spain.
But the scope of the investigation widened. The task force also focused on officials of the now-defunct Al-Taqwa Management Organization, a Swiss-based firm that went into liquidation in December 2001.
The U.S. government says Al-Taqwa helped fund Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. The company was founded in 1988 and run from Lugano by its Egyptian-born managing director, Youssef M. Nada, and his Syrian-born associate, Ali Himat.
Swiss authorities blocked the accounts of the company and the personal accounts of board members, while neighboring Liechtenstein froze the accounts of an affiliate firm.
Company officials have repeatedly denied links to terrorism, and accused Swiss authorities of taking part in a U.S.-led anti-Muslim campaign.
“I have nothing to do with terrorism. I have nothing to do with violence,” Nada said in an interview late Thursday with Swiss public radio.
“If they say I am Islamist, yes, I am. If they say I am an activist, yes I am. But I am against terrorism and violence,” he said, adding that bin Laden’s acts were “against humanity.”
Another investigation focused on a Saudi businessman with ties to Switzerland and the United States who allegedly acted as an al-Qaida contact.
The unidentified man, a former president of the Muwafaq charitable foundation, is believed to have used Swiss accounts to transfer millions of Swiss francs to individuals tied to al-Qaida. Prosecutors said Swiss authorities have frozen around $20 million in a Geneva bank as a result of their investigation. The man has denied any links with terrorists, officials said.
A third inquiry centered on the alleged ties of Swiss-based militants to a series of bombings on foreigners’ residential compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 2003.
The attacks, linked to al-Qaida, killed 35 people including one Swiss citizen.
Overall, Swiss investigators have blocked around $27 million in connection with investigations into al-Qaida. And since December, Swiss police have arrested 10 foreigners in connection with the Saudi attacks. Two have been released.
The suspects in custody allegedly helped citizens from Arab nations enter Switzerland illegally and provided them with fake identities.