Stockholm Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr told Sveriges Radio that the city has thus far identified 19 individuals who have returned from the terrorist group Isis and who can be suspected of war crimes.
According to König Järlemyr, the individuals have been found through a new collaboration in which local social services contact Sweden's Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen), which in turn then opens up an investigation.
“We are working together to gather information about these individuals. The police have not worked like this before, but now we’ve connected with the National Unit Against Organised Crime and the head prosecutor there, Lise Tamm, who welcomes this,” she said.
As a result of the new arrangement, Stockholm's social welfare service (Socialförvaltningen) is obligated to provide information to police and prosecutors when it suspects someone may have been involved with a war crime.
Stockholm’s new approach comes as the national government is struggling to find the best way to deal with the roughly 150 citizens who have returned home after joining Isis. Not a single returning jihadist has been convicted of crimes committed while abroad. This is in large part due to the nation’s laws, which require the suspicion of a specific crime in order to initiate a preliminary investigation.
Many, including Sweden's leading terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, have called for authorities to immediately investigate any Swedish citizen who returns from a foreign conflict zone.
- Sweden debates fate of returned foreign fighters
- Sweden calls for international tribunal to bring Isis fighters to justice
- Sweden Democrats call on government to strip Isis fighters of citizenship
- Terror expert warns Sweden against repatriating Syria jihadists
Late last month, the government introduced legislation that would make it illegal to both participate in a terrorist organization and to cooperate with these organizations. The laws would not however be applied retroactively, meaning that people who have previously joined terror groups would not be prosecuted.
Some, including the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats and Gothenburg’s chief of police, have called on returning Isis fighters to be stripped of their Swedish citizenship. Interior Minister Mikael Damberg has said that there are no current plans to revoke citizenship because a law change like that would take too long to be part of an immediate solution.
It is estimated that around 300 people have left Sweden to join terror groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012. Roughly half of them are believed to have returned to Sweden, while around 50 are thought to have been killed and another 100 remain in the region.