Geneva, Dec 11: Switzerland has ordered a returned recruit of the Islamic State group to do 600 hours of community service and will not send him to prison, in the country's first sentencing of a foreign jihadist fighter.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber's ruling went into effect this week, he told public broadcaster RTS late yesterday. The 30-year-old recent convert to Islam, from the western Swiss canton of Vaud, had travelled to Syria late last year to join an IS training camp.
The man, whose name was not given, told the broadcaster he had been indoctrinated over the Internet. "I was new to Islam. The videos I saw and the discussions I had online made me feel like I had to go there," he said. After two weeks in the training camp however, he asked to leave, only to be jailed by the militant group, which held him for 54 days, RTS reported.
The man, who has been cooperating with authorities and claims to have cut all ties with the jihadist group, was sentenced under a Swiss law against taking part in criminal organisations and under a military law against fighting for a foreign army, according to the report.
Thousands of Western volunteers have joined the IS battle to create an Islamic "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq, heightening fears that radicalised and battle-hardened fighters will launch attacks when they return to their home countries.
Asked about the seemingly light sentence, Lauber insisted his ruling was appropriate for this particular case.
He stressed though that future cases of returned fighters might result in very different sentences, depending on the details of the case. "This is a verdict for this case, singular," he told RTS.