Geopolitics

“Eco Terrorists” Accused Of Plotting Against IBM Face Trial In Switzerland

Three go on trial for allegedly planning to bomb an IBM facility in Switzerland. Prosecutors say the accused have ties with an Italian anarchist group known as the FAI, which claims responsibility for several recent bomb attacks in southern Europe.

Anarchist graffiti in Lisbon, Portugal
Anarchist graffiti in Lisbon, Portugal
Denis Masmejan

BELLINZONA - A group of so-called "eco-terrorists' are set to appear this week before the Federal Criminal Court in this town in Switzerland, where they are accused of plotting to bomb an IBM research center in Ruschlikon.

According to the 2010 national security report by the Swiss Defense Department, the allegations are "of great importance" given that the region has experienced a recent wave of violent actions linked to left-wing extremism and "eco-terrorism."

The defendants, Italians Costantino Alfonso Ragusa, 36 and his wife Silvia Ragusa Guerini, 29, and Luca "Billy" Cristos Bernasconi, 26, of Switzerland, describe themselves as environmental, revolutionary and anarchist activists. The three face charges ranging from attempted arson, to trafficking of illegal explosive substances.

The defendants have been in custody since their arrest on April 15, 2010 outside of Zurich. In the trunk of their rental car, police found five propane bottles, 12 liters of benzene, two liters of engine oil and equipment for igniting the explosives. According to the police, the woman was in possession of two bags of explosive materials weighing 476 grams.

Police also found 31 letters claiming responsibility for a bombing that was allegedly planned for the new IBM building in Ruschlikon. The letters were signed by the Switzerland Earth Liberation Front. Prosecutors say they have no doubt the group was planning to bomb the IBM research center, which is still under construction.

Links to 1970s era terrorists

Several messages written by the defendants have been translated and published online by an anonymous source. In their letters, the alleged eco-terrorists complain about jail conditions and about the fact their mail is monitored. In protest, the detainees launched a hunger strike. Their messages reveal deep ideological convictions. One letter quotes Ulrike Meinhof, a member of the Red Army Faction, Germany's most violent and prominent left-wing terror groups founded in 1970.

"Against any state, priest or boss, against every prison and repression, against any exploitation of men by man, of women by men, of any other species by man and of nature by man," they explain in a written statement cosigned by Marco Camenisch, a well-known anarchist. Camenisch is currently serving time for killing a customs officer in Brusio, Switzerland.

The name Marco Camenisch along with the names of the three defendants appear in a letter apparently written by the Federazione Anarchica Informale (FAI), an Italian anarchist organization claiming responsibility for last March's parcel bomb attack on the Swiss nuclear headquarters in Olten. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured by the explosion. The FAI said it carried out the attack to protest the jailing of the four anarchists.

The FAI claims responsibility for several other bomb attacks as well. In Livorno, Italy a soldier lost eight fingers when a parcel bomb exploded. Another parcel bomb, in Athens, Greece, was defused in time. A third bomb attack took place last December in Rome. The targets in that case were the Chilean and Swiss embassies.

The Swiss Embassay had been hit two months earlier by a Molotov cocktail. The attackers reportedly left a message on the wall demanding freedom for the three defendants being held in Switzerland.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Cudmore

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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