By Graham Dunn in London

Swiss investigators are detaining seven people in custody as part of continuing investigations after a swoop last month on what it alleges was a terrorist cell “very seriously” planning an attack on an El Al aircraft in the country.

Reports of the action first emerged last month and now the Swiss federal prosecutor has provided basic details of the status of the operation.

The investigation which led to the arrest of a number of people of North African origin on 12 May, has been under way since the start of 2005 and has involved co-operation with a number of European states and authorities.

“The investigation has made it possible to show this cell had very seriously planned to make in our country an attack against an aircraft of the Israeli airline El Al,” the prosecutor says in a statement about the alleged plot. But, dismissing earlier press speculation, it says it did not seize any explosives, RPG-7 rocket launchers or SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles during its swoop.

The Swiss authorities say the 12 May action in Zurich and Basle marked just the beginning of co-ordinated action in the probe. The investigation continues in Switzerland and other countries.

Source: Flight International