Teen who stabbed Jewish man in Zurich was radicalized online

Swiss police revealed the Tunisian immigrant was a habitué of online Islamist chat rooms.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The teenager who seriously wounded an Orthodox Jewish man in an antisemitic stabbing attack in Zurich earlier this month was radicalized on the internet while living in Tunisia, Swiss police announced on Monday.

The 50-year-old victim, who has not been named, was badly injured during the March 2 attack but survived his ordeal. The attack, described by Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) as the most serious antisemitic hate crime in Switzerland in two decades, caused widespread shock and concern among the approximately 18,000 Jews in the country, resulting in enhanced security for Jewish sites in Zurich.

The 15-year-old assailant, who was arrested at the scene of the attack, had already been identified by police as having appeared in a video in which he expressed solidarity with the ISIS terrorist organization and called for a “battle against the Jews.”

Speaking on Monday, Mario Fehr, the head of the police department in the Zurich canton, revealed that the assailant was a Tunisian immigrant who was naturalized in 2011. Between 2017 and 2021, he lived in Tunisia, where, according to Fehr, he became a habitué of Islamist chat rooms online. The teenager remains in pre-trial detention.

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“There is a strong link with Tunisia,” Fehr commented.

In common with other countries in Europe, antisemitic outrages in Switzerland have rocketed in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel.

About 114 of the antisemitic incidents in Switzerland last year occurred after Oct. 7, according to data gathered by the SIG. Antisemitic incidents also picked up online, with 975 registered cases in 2023, up from 853 the previous year. Nearly half of the 2023 incidents were logged after Oct. 7, the SIG found.

Following the stabbing of the Jewish man in Zurich, Swiss Jewish leaders expressed concern that the severity of the situation facing the community had not been grasped by the wider population.

“The fact that such an event does not generate a national outcry is a real problem,” said Johanne Gurfinkiel, the secretary-general of Cicad, an NGO that monitors antisemitism.