Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Sweden

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Sweden, 5 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c63b61f28.html [accessed 21 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Swedish Security Service (SAPO), which has responsibility for counterterrorism, distinguished between attack and activity threats in its terrorism assessment. Attack threats, which included plans to carry out attacks in Sweden and/or against Swedish interests abroad, remained low. SAPO noted, however, an increased activity threat from individuals who were planning, supporting, or financing terrorist attacks in areas of conflict. A number of individuals with connections to radical and violent networks, primarily al-Qa'ida (AQ) and al-Shabaab, continued to depart Sweden for training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq. According to estimates, the number of persons who seek ideological education, weapons training, or other activity in training camps abroad is likely to increase, and these individuals have the potential to speed up radicalization in Sweden. SAPO is responsible for trying to prevent such trips, but existing legislation leaves few possibilities to stop determined individuals from leaving Sweden. SAPO, therefore, continued to work to identify individuals planning to travel to training camps and held dialogues with them to try to prevent their travel, and it also spoke with persons who were suspected of returning from such travel. At least 20 Swedes were estimated to be active in camps around the world. Somalia continued to be the destination that attracted most individuals, and SAPO confirmed that it was aware of a hand-full of casualties involving ethnic Somali Swedish citizens fighting in East Africa.

In July, Xasaan Xussen, a spiritual leader for the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab, spoke at a conference in the Bellevue Mosque in Gothenburg. Xuseen's visit was controversial because of a widespread concern that he came to Sweden to recruit young people and collect money for al-Shabaab. On July 15, the Somali Minister of Justice Abdirahman Janaqoo visited Sweden to discuss how to prevent young Somali-Swedes from traveling to Somalia and fight against the government. Together with two Somali parliamentarians, Minister Janaqoo met with representatives from the Swedish government to discuss radicalization of Somali-Swedes. In November, the media reported that a Swedish-Somali youth leader had used a youth center in one of Stockholm's suburbs as a base for al-Shabaab recruitment.

Swedish authorities monitored individuals with connections to AQ, al-Shabaab, Ansar al-Islam, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Hizb Al-Tahrir, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). According to Swedish terrorism experts, members of terrorist groups, such as Ansar al-Islam, and Hizballah, used funds earned in Sweden to finance terrorist activities elsewhere. The al-Aqsa Foundation in Malmo was shut down in 2007 when it was suspected of financing HAMAS. Its chairman, Khaled al-Yousef, went on trial for terrorist financing and violating international sanctions, though he was acquitted in November after the case had been reviewed in two different courts.

Swedish law does not provide the government with independent national authority to freeze or seize assets, unless in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation. However, once the EU takes action, the government can and does freeze assets of entities and persons listed on the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee list. This procedure is managed through the Sanctions Act (1995). On October 26, the Swedish branch of the Somali bank network Al-Barakaat was delisted from the UN's sanctions list. The Swedish branch of the organization was first designated in 2001 and about US$ 142,857 of frozen assets will now become accessible. Sweden can also take action against entities designated by the EU clearinghouse process, although Sweden has not yet proposed individuals or entities for inclusion on such lists.

On March 15, a new law on money laundering and terrorist finance came into effect that covers a broader range of entities and requires companies to have better knowledge about customer transactions. Suspicious transactions have to be reported to the Financial Police for further investigation. A special unit at the Financial Supervisory Authority, which supervises and monitors companies operating on the financial market, has been established to oversee implementation of the new legislation.

In late 2008, the Swedish Parliament approved the new EU directive on counterterrorism, which was intended to harmonize the EU Member States' domestic laws and to criminalize public exhortation to terrorist crimes, recruitment and training for terrorism purposes, including actions performed over the Internet. In order for Sweden to comply with the directive, changes in the current legislation and a new law have been drafted. On December 21, the government introduced its proposed bill for action by the Parliament for voting.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, Sweden applied its Special Alien's Control Act once. The act was established in 1991 to prevent presumptive terrorists from entering or residing in Sweden but also permits for control of individuals, who due to asylum reasons still have to be granted a stay in Sweden. In this particular case, the government decided to deport the person from Sweden.

While there were no convictions for terrorism in Sweden during the reporting period, the following cases should be mentioned:

  • In April, a 32 year-old Swedish citizen of Somali origin was arrested in the United Kingdom, where he currently faces allegations for terrorist financing in Somalia.

  • In July, Swedish citizen Misrad Bektasevic, who was convicted on terrorism charges in Bosnia in 2005, was transferred from Bosnia to Sweden, where he will serve the remainder of his prison sentence. Bektasevic was arrested by Bosnian Security Police in Sarajevo, when he was found in an apartment with explosives, weapons, and suicide bomb belts in 2005. A video with masked persons threatening to attack forces in Iraq and Afghanistan was found and a voice analysis proved that Bektasevic was one of the individuals in the video. In 2007, he was sentenced to eight years and four months imprisonment for terrorism-related crimes.

During Sweden's EU Presidency in the latter half of the year, Sweden arranged a conference on prison radicalization and prevention; a seminar on enabling local police officers to detect and prevent radicalization; chaired the Working Party meeting on Terrorism and Terrorist Financing between the EU and the United States; and led EU efforts for negotiating the interim Terrorist Financing Tracking Program Agreement between the EU and the United States. Sweden also drafted and negotiated the EU's new five-year program within Justice and Home Affairs, which involves counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation. Sweden continued to contribute to counterterrorism capacity-building projects in third countries.

In November, the Swedish Parliament voted to extend the mandate for its troop contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for another 12 months. Troop numbers are expected to remain at 500 and Sweden will continue its engagement in northern Afghanistan.

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