BELLINZONA, Switzerland: Switzerland’s first Internet terrorism trial opened Wednesday with the prosecution accusing two Muslims of running Web sites that supported al-Qaida linked groups and showed terror executions.
The two suspects — Moez Garsallaoui, a Tunisian based in Switzerland, and Malika El Aroud, the Belgian-born widow of an al-Qaida suicide bomber — appeared in the high-security court room on Wednesday morning.
They are accused of running Web sites showing the slaying of hostages and giving details of how to make bombs and carry out attacks. The suspects were detained in February 2005 during anti-terror raids in two Swiss cantons, or states, the Federal Criminal Court said.
The charges include providing support for terrorist groups, according to the indictment by the Federal Prosecutor. The two suspects are also accused of publicly inciting criminal acts and racial violence as well as the manufacture, concealment and transfer of explosives or poisonous gases.
The presentation of arguments in trial in Switzerland’s federal criminal court is scheduled to last up to two days.
According to the indictment, Garsallaoui, the 39-year-old main defendant, is accused of running different Web sites with discussion forums that were used by terrorist groups to share information. Prosecutors have said the sites were set up to promote racially motivated crimes.
The sites also were used to publicize claims of responsibility for attacks and threats against Western countries. Swiss media reported two years ago that the beheading of American engineer Paul M. Johnson, Jr. in Saudi Arabia was one of a number of executions aired on the sites.
El Aroud, a Belgian citizen of Moroccan descent, has been charged as a co-defendant for operating a jihadi Web site. The 48-year old woman is the widow of one of the suicide attackers who killed anti-Taliban warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, according to Swiss Federal Police.
All the Web sites were shut down by Swiss authorities in 2005. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said a forum on one of the sites, called “Islamic-minibar,” was used to publish letters claiming responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Pakistan in July 2004.
Other postings included a threat to kill Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, who were abducted in Baghdad in September 2004. The two aid workers were later freed.