What Sweden is doing to crack down on terrorists

What Sweden is doing to crack down on terrorists
A police officer at Sweden's Arlanda airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
As concerns grow in Europe of terrorist acts on home soil by returning Isis fighters, Sweden has introduced new legislation designed to crack down on jihadists.

The new laws come just over a week after more than 30 people were killed in a series of suicide bombings in the heart of the EU at Brussels' Zaventem airport and the underground station Maelbeek.

“With last week's horrific attacks in Brussels fresh in our minds, it feels very good that from today onwards, we have a new, tougher legislation in place which gives the security services more muscle to prevent terrorist crimes in Sweden,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told reporters.

The anti-terror legisation, which was voted through in parliament in March and toughens existing legislation, will punish those who travel abroad to join a terrorist group.

Those convicted of travelling to another country to seek training or to commit a terrorist act will be handed two-year sentences.

The law also stipulates that those who finance a terrorist group must spend up to two years behind bars, or up to six years if the crime is considered aggravated, reported the Aftonbladet tabloid.

Sweden's intelligence service Säpo has previously identified around 300 people as having left Sweden since 2013 to join the Isis jihadist group in the Middle East. It believes 135 have since returned to Swedish soil and has said returning fighters are among the biggest threats to Sweden.

Löfven also said he wanted to increase funding to the agency.

“We are also giving a new assignment to the security police to tighten controls of those who return from terror travels. If someone is planning an attack in Sweden we will do everything to stop them,” he said.

Sweden recently lowered its terror threat level down to three (on a scale from one to five, where five is the highest) after raising it briefly in November, days after the attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and during a separate hunt for a suspected terrorist in the Nordic country.

However the terror suspect police arrested soon afterwards in northern Sweden turned out to be innocent and later demanded compensation from the Swedish government.