Sweden is under siege as its Security Service (SAPO) warns that thousands of Islamist extremists are now living in the country. The Daily Mail reports that the rise in extremism is related to ISIS propaganda.
A 2010 Sapo report estimated the number of violent Islamist extremists in the Scandinavian country at 200.
Thornberg attributed the rise primarily to the propaganda machine of Islamic State (IS), which has united different groups of Islamist extremists.
‘We used to have different circles. We had radicalised [people] from North Africa, the Middle East and Somalia, but they were all separate,’ he said.
Thornberg said Sapo now receives around 6,000 intelligence tips a month concerning terrorism and extremism, compared to an average 2,000 a month in 2012.
The news from SAPO comes on the heels of an April 7 attack by an Uzbek man who was denied asylum in Sweden, but decided to commit a terror attack before leaving. According to the New York Times the man had shown sympathy for ISIS.
The suspect, 39, had shown “sympathy for extremist organizations,” the police said. He applied for permanent residency in 2014, and the Swedish Migration Agency denied his application in June 2016, officials said.
The police tried to find him in February of this year to execute the exit order, but he had gone underground, becoming a wanted man, Jonas Hysing, the national strategic commander, said at a news conference on Sunday at the Stockholm police headquarters.
“We know that he has shown sympathy for extremist organizations like I.S.,” Mr. Hysing said, referring to the Islamic State terrorist group.
On Friday, the man was arrested on suspicion of driving a stolen beer truck that was used to mow down a crowd of people, killing four and injuring 15 others.
Sweden’s history as a haven for refugees has made it a prime destination for those fleeing the Syrian conflict, but also for economic migrants looking for higher paying jobs in Europe. After a massive wave of refugees hit Europe in 2015 and 2016, Sweden began adjusting its rules for who would be accepted and who would not. The Daily Signal reports:
In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, Sweden took in more migrants per capita than any other European country. That year, more than 162,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden, including 51,000 Syrians seeking protection from terrorism and the country’s civil war.
For comparison, the United Kingdom received 39,000 asylum applications in 2015, while France received 71,000 applications.
“In general terms, Sweden has a reputation as being a safe haven for people in need of protection,” said Bernd Parusel of the Swedish Migration Agency, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “And that has certainly made the country very attractive to people seeking protection. But the situation in 2015 was extraordinary and overwhelming in many ways.”
The government in Sweden, a small Scandinavian country of 10 million people that has been resettling refugees through the United Nations since 1950, reacted swiftly to the crisis, enacting a series of restrictions to its refugee and asylum policies in late 2015 and 2016.
Magnus Ranstorp, the head of terrorism research at the Swedish Defense University, says that roughly 12,000 rejected asylum seekers have gone underground, and not returned to their home countries, including 3,000 in the Stockholm region…
So Sweden is home 12,000 asylum seekers its authorities know little about. And those authorities know that thousands of the people they do know of possess extremist ideologies. The question must be asked, what about Sweden’s refugee and asylee policies has worked for the benefit of the Swedes themselves?