Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Sweden

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 April 2014
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Sweden, 30 April 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/536229b85.html [accessed 23 October 2017]
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.

Overview: According to the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO), the most significant threat to Sweden is al-Qa'ida (AQ)-inspired individuals or groups. AQ-inspired violent extremists in Sweden and abroad continued to see Sweden as a target for attacks. Perceived insults to Islam and Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan remained motives. Individuals associated with AQ-inspired violent extremist groups in Sweden continued to have contacts with foreign terrorist networks. The contacts included financial and logistical support as well as recruitment of individuals to travel to conflict areas to attend terrorism-related training and combat. SÄPO is concerned by the numbers of foreign fighters who have left Sweden to join violent extremist groups in Syria and confirmed that at least 75 individuals have traveled to Syria, which is more than the combined travel to all other conflict zones, and saw no indication that the travel is decreasing. The Swedes view returnees as a particular concern as these individuals have the potential to plan an attack in Sweden or radicalize and recruit others for travel. The travelers are mostly men aged 18 to 30, but there also have been women who traveled to support the fight in Syria. The Swedish foreign fighters frequently use social media to circulate photos of "martyrs" and recruitment videos that target a Swedish audience.

The National Threat Advisory level in Sweden has remained "elevated" since it was first raised in October 2010. Since then, several plots have been disrupted, hence the reason for the elevated threat.

Swedish citizen Johan Gustafsson, who was kidnapped by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) when visiting Mali in November 2011, remained in AQIM's detention at year's end. Gustafsson was last seen in a September 19 video released by the group.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continued to carry out significant support activities such as recruitment and financing in Sweden.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Sweden's original counterterrorism legislation was passed in 2003 and was supplemented in 2010 when incitement, recruitment, and providing terrorism training were criminalized. Sweden has a specialized division at the Prosecution Authority that deals with all terrorism-related cases.

SÄPO has the main responsibility to counter terrorism in Sweden and has demonstrated the capability to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Sweden's interagency counterterrorism cooperation takes place mainly within the Counterterrorism Cooperative Council that includes 13 government agencies, as well as in the National Center for Terrorism Threat Assessment that produces long- and short-term strategic assessments of the terrorist threat against Sweden and Swedish interests. There is timely sharing of terrorism-related information and prosecutors are consulted at early stages of investigations and work in coordination with counterparts in other components of law enforcement. Law enforcement units have a record of accountability and respect for human rights. Sweden continues to cooperate with the United States on terrorism-related cases.

Sweden is a participant of the EU's Schengen cooperation and uses the Schengen Information System II for information sharing, port of entry screening, lost and stolen passport information, and watch listing. Under the auspices of the PNR agreement between the EU and the United States, Sweden collects and shares PNR information from commercial flights.

Sweden is facing challenges with foreign fighter travel since there is no legislation that criminalizes the travel, which makes it hard to put a stop to it. Sweden is working together with a group of likeminded EU member states to push for an EU PNR system that would enhance member states' ability to keep track of when individuals travel and return.

Resolution and continuation of cases from 2011 and 2012 include:

  • Swedish-Lebanese citizen Hussein Atris, arrested at Bangkok International Airport on January 12, 2012 for suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack, was convicted of illegal possession of explosive material and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

  • Swedish-Lebanese citizen Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, arrested in Cyprus on July 7, 2012 for suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack for Lebanese Hizballah against Israeli tourists, pled not guilty but was convicted and sentenced by a Cypriot court to four years of prison for his criminal activities.

  • Swedish-Somali citizens Ali Yassin Ahmed and Mohamed Yusuf, arrested in Djibouti in August 2012 while traveling from Somalia to Yemen and transferred to the United States in November 2012, were still facing charges for providing material support to al-Shabaab. Their trial was pending at year's end.

  • The pre-investigation related to the December 11, 2010 suicide bombing carried out by Taimour Abdulwahab in Stockholm was still being conducted in 2013 by the prosecutor for national security cases.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sweden is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and was evaluated by the FATF in October 2012. Authorities believe that large scale currency movements occurred from Sweden to the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and other potentially risky jurisdictions. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Sweden contributed to counterterrorism capacity-building projects through its development aid work carried out by the Swedish International Development Agency, and also via funding to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime-Terrorism Prevention Branch and the OSCE. Sweden also supported the EU's work with capacity-building projects in Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Maghreb, and the Sahel. Sweden provided trainers to the EU Training Mission in Mali. Sweden was a large donor to the UN's Counter-Terrorism International Task Force (CTITF), with special focus on the CTITF working group that works to strengthen human rights in counterterrorism work. Although not a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Sweden participated in its CVE working group.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: On December 16, an expert group presented its report that examined how Sweden's work to prevent violent extremism could be carried out more efficiently. In June, the National Media Council presented its study on the presence of Swedish violent extremist groups on the internet, how youth are influenced by what they read, and how to improve internet literacy for youth. In March, the Swedish National Defense College delivered its report on the issue of foreign fighter travel, how Sweden is dealing with the challenge, and recommendations to enhance preventive work.

The Minister responsible for countering violent extremism (CVE) issues instructed the Dean of the Swedish National Police Academy to conduct a study to define the presence in Sweden of AQ-inspired and left- and right-wing violent extremism.

Under the auspices of the EU's Community Policing Preventing Radicalization and Terrorism (COPPRA) project, the Swedish National Police Academy continued to work to increase its knowledge to detect radicalization. About 30 police officers from across Sweden went through the weeklong COPPRA training, which certifies officers to return to their home counties to "train the trainers."

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