Swedish Islamists in Syria leave Säpo ‘worried’

Around 30 Islamists have travelled from Sweden recently to fight or to be trained to fight in Syria, Swedish security service Säpo revealed on Monday, expressing its concerns over the development.

Swedish Islamists in Syria leave Säpo 'worried'

“Around 30 in a short time, and in recent years targets in Sweden have been pointed out as legitimate within global al-Qaeda inspired ideology,” Jonathan Peste, head analyst in counter-terrorism at Säpo, told the TT news agency.

“We are worried.”

Peste is concerned that the fighters, upon return to Sweden, could be an inspiration for other like-minded Syrians in Sweden.

Säpo has previously refused to offer a specific figure for the number people leaving Sweden to fight, but the figure was released on Monday as a part of the agency’s annual report.

Peste pointed out that the people have travelled over the past 18 months, and that some of the people may still be in Syria. He added that many of them did not have family ties in Syria, evidence that they were fighting for ideology.

“These are low figures we’re giving that we are completely certain about. We have information about more, but we are working on that,” he said.

According to Säpo, there are around 200 violent and extreme Islamists in Sweden.

In October, 2010, the terror scale in Sweden was raised from two to three on a five-grade scale.

TT/The Local/og

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Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected.