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TERRORISM

Swedes charged with terrorism in US court

Two Swedish citizens appeared in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York on Friday on charges that they had trained and fought with al-Shabaab, a Somali group designated as terrorists by the United States.

Swedes charged with terrorism in US court

“The defendants are not aspiring terrorists, they are terrorists. They did more than receive terrorist training: they used it in terrorist operations with al-Shabaab,” said George Venizelos of the FBI in New York.

The two Swedes, aged 27 and 29, along with a 23-year-old defendant, are accused of participating in weapons and explosives training with al-Shabaab, a United States-designated terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, during a four-year period beginning in 2008.

If found guilty they could face lifetime in prison.

The men were arrested in August by authorities in Africa while going to Yemen. They appeared in the Brooklyn court with the aid of a Swedish interpreter.

Much of the case is shrouded in mystery, reports the New York Times. It remained under seal for four months and the court documents unsealed on Friday contained little elaboration on the crimes or any indication of why the case was brought in New York.

According to the Swedish Foreign Ministry, staff from the Swedish consulate visited the two Swedes and reported that they are well “considering the circumstances”.

Sweden has not objected to the men’s extradition to the United States.

“This is a legal issue between Djibouti and the USA,” Sara Brandt-Hansen, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told the TT news agency.

“We will use every tool at our disposal to combat terrorist groups, deter terrorist activity and incapacitate individual terrorists,” said Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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