”It is very important that we take this problem seriously. Every individual who ends up in violent extremism is one too many,” minster for democracy, Birgitta Ohlsson told news agency TT after a press conference on Friday.
Between 2012 and 2014 the government is aiming to spend 62 million kronor ($9.2 million) in combating extremism, concentrating on increasing the knowledge of what types of extremism tends to lead to violence.
The work on the action plan has been going on for three years and is a joint effort between security service Säpo, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå), the National Defence College (Försvarshögskolan), the National Board of Youth Affairs (Ungdomsstyrelsen), and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR).
According to Ohlsson, Taimour Abdulwahab’s attempt to blow himself up on a Stockholm street last year has showed Swedes how vulnerable the country’s open society is.
She also mentioned the tragedy in Norway caused by Anders Behring Breivik, the Gothenburg riots of 2001, and the police murders in Malexander in 1999.
“Säpo says that there are too few of these individuals for these groups to constitute a serious threat to democracy, but we must keep a watchful eye. We should neither overestimate or underestimate them,” Ohlsson said.
The three extremist environments on which the plan’s efforts will be concentrated are the white power movement, the autonomous left, and violent Islamism.
“We have a few hundred individuals, part of autonomous groups, white-power movements or Islamists that we need to take very seriously,” Ohlsson said.
However, Ohlsson did not want to single out one group as more dangerous than another.
“We have had reports done on these three groups and that’s the material this plan is based on,“ Ohslsson said.
According to Ohlsson, it is the prevention of extremism which is central in the plan, to work with schools, to educate teachers and key groups in civil society.
The government also wants to strengthen international cooperation and create a better support network for those who wish to leave extremist groups.
“Today we have a good programme for ex-right wing extremist, but not when it comes to other groups,” Ohlsson told TT.