Zurich shooter had 'no links to radical Islam'

Zurich shooter had 'no links to radical Islam'
Investigators remain puzzled about a motive behind two attacks thought to have been committed by a Swiss national with 'interests in the occult'.
2 min read
21 December, 2016
The key suspect was found dead near the scene of the crime [AFP]
The 24-year-old Swiss gunman who shot three worshippers in a Zurich mosque on Monday had no links to radical Islam, police said on Tuesday.

The suspect, who remains unnamed, is also believed to have killed a South American man whose body was discovered in a Zurich playground on Sunday. It is thought that the assailant took his own life after the mosque shooting.

"He is Swiss and we don't know anything about the motives," Christiane Lentjes Meili, head of criminal investigations for the Zurich cantonal police, told reporters.

The Islamic centre, situated near Zurich's main train station, was stormed by the gunman after dusk on Monday. Three men – aged 30, 35 and 56 – were shot as they prayed. 

According to sources cited by local media outlets on Tuesday, their conditions are said to be improving.

With the key suspect dead, investigators are searching for a possible motive that could have driven the killer. The suspect, whose last brush with the law was was a bike thief seven years ago, had resigned from his job just days before the attacks.

There are suggestions that he was an occultist, with Meili adding that it is unclear whether he suffered from mental illness.

"We are still waiting to see if that person was targeting us or if it was a coincidence that brought him to us. Everything is open," Saad Subaan from the Zurich Islamic Community Foundation told reporters after a press conference.

Monday's attack came as the world's attention was directed at the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov at an art gallery in the Turkish capital Ankara.

On the same day, a truck ploughed into a crowded area at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Community tensions in Switzerland have increased in recent years, where the country's growing Muslim population has been subjected to scrutiny by far-right groups and media. In 2009, the country voted in favour of a constitutional ban on new minarets.

In 2009, the country introduced a constitutional ban on the construction of new minarets after a majority of 57.5 percent voted in favour of the legislation in a national referendum.