Swedes joining rebels can ‘rarely be stopped’

A Säpo official has suggested Sweden is powerless to stop citizens from joining Islamist rebels in Syria even though there is a risk they will return to commit acts of terror in Sweden.

Swedes joining rebels can 'rarely be stopped'

At least 30 Swedish citizens have travelled to Syria to fight against Assad’s regime.

“We can rarely stop them,” Jonathan Peste, chief analyst at Swedish security service Säpo, told Sveriges Radio (SR) on Monday.

According to Peste, the Swedish citizens who have joined rebel forces in Syria are dangerous individuals.

“In Syria they are dangerous. Some have committed attacks against civilians,” he claimed.

“What we are concerned about is the experiences they receive over there. They increase their ability to commit acts of violence. Many return to Sweden and, according to al-Qaida’s ideology, Europe and even Sweden are legitimate targets,” said Peste.

He claimed that there are known examples of individuals who have planned to attack Sweden.

Among the Swedes who have gone to Syria, some, said Peste, “have been part of this violence-endorsing Islamist, or al-Qaida-inspired, environment for quite some time.”

Others are completely new to those environments and have gone to Syria after witnessing from afar the atrocities that are happening there.

“This isn’t actually anything new,” said Peste.

“We have seen others travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen for example. What’s worrying about Syria is that quite many have gone there, at least around 30.”

Asked whether Säpo stands a chance of stopping them from going, Peste said “very rarely”.

Explaining Säpo’s methods of preventing or delaying such journeys, Peste said:

“We look them up and try to talk to them. We tell them it is dangerous to go and that we cannot help them if someone catches them. But then they don’t have to meet with us if they don’t want to.”

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Swede among ‘terror’ suspects arrested in the Netherlands

Dutch police have arrested four men including a Swedish citizen suspected of being involved in terror-related activities, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Swede among 'terror' suspects arrested in the Netherlands
Stock image/Depositphotos

“Rotterdam police detained four men early on Sunday evening on suspicion of being involved in terrorism,” the public prosecution's office said in a statement.

One of the men, aged 29, arrived on a flight from Stockholm earlier on Sunday while the other three aged 21, 23 and 30 come from the cities of Vlaardingen, Delft and Gouda in southwest Netherlands.

Dutch police raided three homes in the three cities and seized data but found no weapons or explosives, the statement said.

Although “there is no concrete information to indicate a terror attack, police and the public prosecution's office are not taking any chances,” prosecutors said without giving further information.

The suspects remain in custody pending a court appearance.

A Dutch citizen was sentenced to four years in November for preparing a terror attack following his arrest in Rotterdam last year, when police discovered an assault rifle and a large amount of fireworks.

In another scare, Dutch military police shot and wounded a man armed with a knife at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport earlier this month, but authorities said the incident was not terror-related.

The Netherlands has so far been spared from the slew of terror attacks to have rocked its closest European neighbours in recent years.