Sweden could boost funds to fight terrorism

Sweden could boost funds to fight terrorism
Anders Ygeman speaks at a defence conference in January. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
The Swedish government has not ruled out investing more money into the fight against terrorism, Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman has said.

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The Social Democrat minister told broadcaster SVT's news debate programme Agenda that more must be done in Sweden to prevent radicalization and recruitment of terrorists – and to punish those who engage in it.

“Both [measures] are needed. We must not be naive. Repressive action is also required to combat terrorism.”

“But we need to intensify our work against the terrorists, especially the preventative work to stop radicalization and recruitment to these groups,” he said.

The Danish government has allocated almost a billion kronor to the fight on terror, 170 million kronor ($20.3 million) of which is being invested into internet surveillance – an option Ygeman told Agenda could be introduced in Sweden as well.

“The security police and the police today say they have the resources they require, but if this continues we may have to have a discussion about budget and economic resources too,” he said.

“We are going to give more funds to Mona Sahlin, the government's co-ordinator against violent extremism. She is also going to be given a wider remit," he added.

His comments come just days after Sweden's national job agency announced it had sacked its whole network of immigrant resettlement assistants after suspicion some of them may have tried to recruit newly arrived immigrants to jihadist-style militant groups.

The case is being investigated by the Swedish security police (Säpo), who earlier in February confirmed as many as 32 Swedes are believed to have been killed fighting for the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq.

"Syria is the biggest threat to Sweden since the Second World War"

In total around 130 Swedes are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Isis since summer 2012, but it has been reported the number could be as high as 300. All dead are men.

Mona Sahlin, national coordinator against violent extremism and former leader of the Swedish centre-left Social Democrat party, is to be given increased resources and an expanded mandate to look at preventative strategies.

A new law to allow Swedish authorities to confiscate the passports of Swedes who are known to have fought alongside extremists in Syria or Iraq is being drafted by the government, Ygeman announced on Thursday.

The EU coordinator for anti-terrorism, Gilles de Kerchove, estimated at the end of last year that 3,000 Europeans have joined the ultra-hardline Isis group, which has caused global revulsion with its regular videotaped beheadings of hostages.

A Swedish-Norwegian islamist convert appeared in an online video earlier in February calling on other Scandinavians to travel to Syria to join the terror group. Wearing desert camouflage and clutching an assault rifle, Michael Nikolai Skråmo, who also calls himself Abo Ibrahim Al Swedi, says in the video: "Do you not wish in in your heart to fight and show God what you have to offer him? The door to jihad is standing there waiting for you. It's the fastest way to Jannah [Paradise].