Overview: Sweden experienced its deadliest terrorist attack in decades in April 2017 when an Uzbek national with ISIS sympathies used a stolen truck to overrun pedestrians on a major shopping street in Stockholm, killing five people and wounding several others. The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) estimated the number of violent extremists to have increased significantly from 200 in 2010 to about 3,000 in 2017, of which two-thirds are Islamist extremists. The National Center for Terrorism Threats stated that the biggest danger to Sweden is terrorist attacks inspired by radical ideology, such as those promoted by ISIS and al-Qa'ida. SÄPO reported that returning foreign terrorist fighters posed one of the most significant threats to Sweden's security. There is broad political unity to strengthen Sweden's defenses against terrorism.

Sweden continued its counterterrorism cooperation with the international community. At the end of 2017, the national alert level was a three (elevated threat, no evidence of planning) on a scale of five (attack imminent, evidence of planning). The national alert level has been graded a three since 2010, except for when it was temporarily raised to a four (high threat, evidence of planning) for several months following the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Sweden is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and made humanitarian contributions to ISIS-impacted populations in Iraq (US $23.5 million in 2017). In October, Sweden doubled the number of military trainers deployed in northern Iraq in support of Coalition efforts from 35 to 70 service men until the end of 2018.

Johan Gustafsson, a Swedish citizen who was kidnapped by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb when visiting Mali in November 2011, was released in June 2017 and returned to Sweden.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: On April 7, Rakhmat Akilov, a citizen of Uzbekistan who was illegally in Sweden after having his request for asylum denied, rammed a stolen truck into pedestrians in Stockholm, killing five people and injuring 10. Akilov had expressed sympathies with ISIS before the attack. He was in Swedish custody at the end of 2017.

On July 7, three men with ties to the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement were sentenced to up to eight-and-a-half years in prison for a series of bomb attacks in western Sweden to protest the government's refugee policy, including a January 2017 attack against an asylum center where one man was seriously wounded. Two of the men were reported to have received paramilitary training in Russia.

On December 9, an estimated 10 to 20 persons threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Gothenburg. The incendiaries did not ignite the building, and nobody was hurt. The prosecutor stated that "our theory is that this is connected to the Israel-Palestinian conflict." The police investigation was ongoing at the end of 2017.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Sweden's legislation criminalizes the incitement of terrorist acts, recruiting on behalf of terrorist organizations, travel to support terrorist organizations, and providing terrorism training. After the terrorist attack in central Stockholm April 7, the government and the opposition agreed to several additional counterterrorism measures, such as facilitating information exchange between authorities, reviewing security in public spaces, broadening close circuit television monitoring, and promoting the use of electronic monitoring on suspects. The new legislation will go into effect in 2018.

The Swedish government increased SÄPO's budget for countering terrorist threats and violent extremism by US $9.5 million for 2017, US $20.2 million for 2018, US $23.7 million for 2019, and US $23.7 million for 2020.

Sweden is party to the European Union's (EU's) identity verification and border management tools such as the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System, which results in traveler information exchanges with other member states on irregular immigration and border control. Sweden was updating legislation at year's end to implement the EU Passenger Name Recognition Directive.

On November 12, the temporary border controls justified by the massive influx of asylum seekers in 2015 ended as the EU Commission declared it will no longer extend border controls with respect to the refugee crisis. Sweden instead prolonged unilaterally the temporary border controls until mid-May 2018 using a national security justification, permitted under the Schengen Border Code if a "serious threat to public policy or internal security" exists.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sweden is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Sweden's financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Intelligence Service, is a member of the Egmont Group. The FATF's assessment of Sweden's anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing controls in April concluded that Sweden has a strong regime to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing, but needs to improve its national policy coordination.

A report from Sweden's National Defense University showed that a majority of the 300 confirmed foreign terrorist fighters who traveled from Sweden to Iraq and Syria between 2012 and 2016 received some form of welfare benefits and government grants, many under false pretenses, during their time outside of the county.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Sweden's CVE strategy is to address the factors underlying radicalization to violence. In 2014, the government appointed a temporary National Coordinator for Safeguarding Democracy from Violent Extremism, who reported to the Ministry of Culture. The new team at the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention will coordinate its efforts with national-level authorities, municipalities, and civil society. Local authorities will obtain support in developing CVE-focused risk assessments and action plans. The government tasked the Defense Research Agency with gaining better insight into terrorist propaganda and the National Agency for Education with giving teachers better tools to address CVE in the classroom. The Swedish cities of Malmo and Stockholm are both members of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: Sweden is a member of the EU and supports counterterrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations, including the European Commission's Radicalization Awareness Network, the EU-9 (focusing on foreign terrorist fighters), the Counter-Terrorism Group, the Police Working Group on Terrorism, and Europol.

Sweden continued to contribute to counterterrorism capacity-building projects through the development assistance work carried out by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and also via funding to the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime-Terrorism Prevention Branch and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Sweden supported the EU's work with capacity-building projects in prioritized countries and regions, such as Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, and the Sahel. Sweden provided trainers to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Sweden is a member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 and in December, co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.


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