In the wake of the September 11th 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh two years later, Säpo has been a prioritized agency for the Swedish government, which has more than doubled Säpo’s budget in the last ten years.
Last year, Säpo head Anders Thornberg had command over a budget of 1.1 billion kronor ($153 million), according to the agency’s 2011 annual report, which was published on Monday.
In addition, Säpo’s counter-terrorism division now accounts for 29 percent of the agency’s overall budget, up from 18 percent ten years ago.
Meanwhile, 42 percent of Säpo’s budget is now spent by the personal protection division, which employs 130 body guards devoted to providing security to government ministers and other VIPs.
Back in 2001, the division only account for 24 percent of Säpo spending.
“Preventing terror attacks in Sweden and other countries continues to be a high priority,” wrote Thornberg in the report, according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
The report also describes how the agency discovered the exact route taken by Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab when he drove from Tranås in south central Sweden to the Swedish capital ahead of the December 2010 attack
After analyzing data retrieved from a GPS unit recovered from his burned out car, Säpo IT-experts showed how Abdulwahab had apparently gotten lost on his way to Stockholm and for a short while was on his way to Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, because he had typed in the wrong destination in his GPS.
The Säpo report also reveals that 15 countries are actively spying on Sweden or systematically gathering intelligence about Swedish targets abroad.
In the report, Säpo singles out three countries specifically: Iran, Syria, and Libya.
The goal of the spying operations, according to Säpo, is to illegally collect sensitive information about Swedish politics, the economy, technical expertise, and the country’s defences.
There are also cases whereby foreign powers attempt to influence Swedish politics or buy Swedish companies in an effort to obtain information or access to technology.
Another type of illegal intelligence activity which takes place in Sweden is directed toward opposition political leaders or critics of certain regimes who are living in exile in Sweden.
According to Säpo’s report, there are several people in Sweden who are suspected of supporting and financing terrorism in other countries, most of whom are motivated by “violent Islamic extremism” and support terror operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
Several people have also traveled from Sweden to areas experiencing unrest in order to participate in terrorist training camps, according to Säpo’s report.