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Islamic extremism on the rise in Sweden: study

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Iraqi-Swedish terrorist Taimour Abdulwahab's burning car in 2010. File: TT
11:39 CET+01:00
Violent Islamic extremists in Sweden pose an increased threat to the public, a government investigation found on Friday, with the prime risks coming from those who have travelled to war zones for military training.
The report, headed by investigator Doris Högne Rydheim and presented on Friday to Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, concluded that there was an increase in the risk of violence from Islamic extremists against Swedish society and individuals in Sweden.
 
Sweden was found to be a "desirable target", with the prime target area being persons who were considered to have offended or insulted Islam.
 
The report was based on an analysis of Sweden's extremist arena, which was divided into three sections in the report - the autonomous movement on the far left, the white power movement on the far right, and Islamic extremists with religious overtones.
 
While the autonomous left was found to remain a threat to a democratic society and the white-power right to pose a threat to individuals, it was the Islamists who were singled out as a growing societal problem when compared to the last report four years ago. 
 
The findings backed up the recent conclusions of Sweden's secret police service Säpo, which considers Swedes travelling abroad, especially to Syria, to take part in military training the greatest potential threat. The Säpo report found that at least 75 people have travelled from Sweden to Syria with these intentions.
 

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The threat was considered to be even stronger this year, as September will play host to the national elections. 
 
Högne Rydheim stressed that her findings did not mean there was any sudden change in the behaviour of Islamic extremists active in Sweden. Rather the report was an update from the study in 2010. Since then, Sweden became the target of a botched suicide bombing in Stockholm in late 2010, and a plot to murder artist Lars Vilks.

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