Overview: The Swedish Security Service (SAPO), the authority with the main responsibility for countering terrorism, distinguished between attack and activity threats in its annual terrorism report presented in June. According to SAPO, attack threats, which include plans to carry out attacks in Sweden and/or against Swedish interests abroad, remained low during the reporting period, though SAPO had noted the presence of individuals who were planning, supporting, or financing terrorist attacks in areas of conflict and even stated that Swedish nationals were contributing to terrorism in Somalia.
In October, however, SAPO – for the first time ever – raised the National Threat Advisory to "elevated," based on information from the National Center for Terrorism, which discussed an increased threat of potential terrorist attacks towards Sweden and changed activity within certain environments. On December 11, a car bomb device was detonated minutes before Sweden's first ever suicide bomber carried out an attack in a crowded pedestrian area in Stockholm. A few weeks later, on December 29, five individuals were arrested in Sweden and Denmark.
A number of individuals with connections extremist networks – primarily al-Qa'ida (AQ) and al-Shabaab – continued to depart Sweden for training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: Since 2007 when Swedish artist Lars Vilks portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a cartoon dog, Sweden has become a more prominent target for violent extremists. In November, an al-Shabaab fighter named Abu Zaid appeared in a propaganda video in which he, in fluent Swedish, urged Muslims in Sweden to kill Vilks and to move to Somalia. In May, Vilks' house was attacked with Molotov cocktails and two brothers of Swedish-Kosovarian origin, Mentor and Mensur Alija, were arrested and later convicted of arson.
On December 11, Sweden's first ever suicide bomber, a 28 year-old Swedish citizen of Iraqi descent, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, carried out two attacks in a pedestrian shopping area in central Stockholm. In the first explosion, al-Abdaly detonated his abandoned car, slightly wounding two passersby. Authorities believed that al-Abdaly accidently triggered one of the pipe bombs attached to his body, killing himself prematurely on a side street. Shortly before the attack, al-Abdaly sent prerecorded audio clips in Swedish, English, and Arabic to Swedish News Agency TT and to SAPO, in which he cited the presence of Swedish troops in Afghanistan and Lars Vilks as justification for his actions. The investigation was ongoing at year's end.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: On December 1, Sweden's new terrorism legislation came into effect, which criminalizes incitement to recruit and train for terrorism activities. The original legislation from 2003 did not clearly specify these activities.
On December 8, Gothenburg District Court convicted two Swedish citizens of Saudi Arabian and Somali origin of conspiracy to commit terrorist crimes and sentenced both men to four years imprisonment. According to the court, both men are supporters of al-Shabaab and had an agreement to carry out suicide attacks on behalf of the organization in Somalia. Both defendants appealed the verdict on December 29.
On December 29, five individuals were arrested (four in Denmark and one in Sweden) for conspiracy to commit terrorist crimes when planning to attack the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in Denmark.
Countering Terrorist Finance: At the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) October 2010 Plenary, Sweden was recognized for the "significant progress" it had made in addressing deficiencies identified in its Mutual Evaluation Report. In 2010, the Swedish government allocated extra funds to the Financial Supervisory Authority to continue combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Swedish law does not give the government independent authority to freeze or seize assets, unless in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation. Sweden followed EU decisions on freezing assets of entities and persons listed on the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee (for the Taliban and AQ) list and in accordance with UNSCR 1373.
Regional and International Cooperation: Sweden contributed to counterterrorism capacity building projects through its development aid work carried out by Swedish International Development Agency, the UN, EU, and OSCE. Sweden contributed funds to the Center for Global Counterterrorism Cooperation to arrange a workshop in Jakarta concerning the possible establishment of a regional education center in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which would contribute to regional stability and enhance the region's capacity to prevent and counter terrorism. Together with Germany, Sweden supported a visitors program in Sweden for Afghan representatives as part of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime's training program "Strengthening of the legal sector in the fight against terrorism." Sweden provided trainers to the EU's Training Mission to assist with the training of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government security forces.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In February, the Swedish government mandated SAPO to map violent extremism in Sweden. According to the mandate, SAPO was to look into: 1) the existence of violent extremism, 2) the radicalization processes, and 3) tools and strategies needed to counter radicalization. The report was presented December 15 and concluded that there are about 200 individuals in Sweden involved in violent extremist activities. The largest identified threat comes from "returnees" who come to Sweden after being in training camps or participating in attacks abroad. In the past five years, about 30 individuals have traveled abroad, most to Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and at least four have died. SAPO continued to work to identify individuals planning to travel to training camps, held dialogues with them to try to prevent their travel, and spoke with persons who were suspected of returning from such travel.