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Cablegate: Probable Right-Wing Bomb Attacks Against Three Swiss

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSW #0880 2540556
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110556Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BERN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4459

UNCLAS BERN 000880

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/AGS, INR/EU, AND S/CT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOVPTER PHUM SZ
SUBJECT: PROBABLE RIGHT-WING BOMB ATTACKS AGAINST THREE SWISS
CANTONAL OFFICIALS - WARNING SHOT?

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Summary
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1. (SBU) In the early morning hours of September 4, three small
bombs exploded outside the homes of three prominent politicians in
central Switzerland. The blasts caused limited damage and nobody
was harmed in any of these incidents. A link to international
terrorist groups can be virtually ruled out; police suspect
right-wing extremists planted the bombs and the three politicians
were targeted for their prominent role in the organization of the
National Day Celebrations on the mythical Rutli meadow. On August
1, security forces had foiled an attempt by right-wing extremists to
reach the closed-off Rutli, canceling their plans to disrupt the
National Day Address of Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey.
Federal Police have opened an investigation of the explosions. End
Summary.

2. (U) On September 4 at 5:00 a.m., a small bomb detonated in the
mailbox outside the private home of Josef Dittli, Member of the
government of the Canton (state) of Uri in central Switzerland. At
roughly the same time, two other bombs exploded outside the homes of
Edi Engelberger, National Councilor (Congressman) from the Canton of
Nidwalden, and Judith Stamm, former National Councilor from Lucerne
Canton. The bombs were placed in the mailbox or in front of the
entrance door of the politicians' private homes and set off by a
timed fuse. The blasts caused limited material damage and no
personal harm.

3. (U) Nobody has claimed responsibility for the explosions but
police suspect that a group of right-wing extremists were the
authors of all three attacks. The three targeted politicians shared
responsibility for the organization of the National Day Celebrations
on August 1 on the Rutli meadow, a place of mythical importance to
the Swiss, where according to legend Switzerland's founding fathers
took their first pledge of allegiance. Dittli, as Head of the
Cantonal Security Department of Uri (where the Rutli is located),
held overall responsibility for security for the National Day
celebrations; Engelberger and Stamm both serve on the civil society
group "SGG" that formally hosted the event.

4. (U) Police assume that the right-wing extremists placed the bombs
as acts of revenge for having been prevented from reaching the Rutli
on August 1. A few hundred right-wing extremists used to convene on
the Rutli every year on August 1 to disrupt the National Day
celebrations there and to chant racist slogans. In order to prevent
a repeat of such events this year, the SGG and political authorities
decided to seal off the Rutli and host the celebrations
by-invitation only. (Note: Set in mountainous terrain on the shore
of Lake Lucerne, the Rutli can only be conveniently reached by boat.
In the event, police easily foiled the attempts of some right-wing
extremists to reach the Rutli meadow in rubber dinghies. End note)
Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, a social democrat, was given a
heroine's reception by a sympathetic crowd when she arrived at the
Rutli and was able to deliver her National Day address without
interruption. The right-wing extremists, in turn, convened on the
Rutli for a "National Barbecue" on the following Sunday, August 5,
in reaction to having been barred from the Rutli during the National
Day ceremonies on August 1.

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Comment
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5. (SBU) Given the limited impact and the timing of the blasts, the
press speculated that the authors of the attacks did not want to
hurt the politicians or their families. According to press reports,
Dittli called the blasts a "warning shot," but rejected insinuations
that he would change course as a result of the attacks.
Nevertheless, the simultaneous multiple attacks against the private
homes of political figures stand in marked contrast to the normally
tranquil life in Switzerland, where even the most senior politicians
can be spotted on public transportation and walking around cities
unescorted. More worryingly, the recent blasts followed the
detonation of a similar explosive device at the National Day
celebrations on the Rutli itself on August 1. Shortly after the end
of the official program, a small bomb buried in the ground exploded.
This explosive device was also set off by a time fuse but luckily
the crowd had already dispersed and nobody was harmed in the
incident. The federal police, which has jurisdiction over all
criminal acts involving explosive devices, has yet to conclude its
investigation of the August 1 blast but speculation is rife that
right-wing extremists were behind this incident, too. If this
speculation proves accurate, it would be a worrying sign that some
individuals or elements of the right-wing extremist movement in
Switzerland are shifting to new violent tactics. End comment.
CARTER

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