December 15, 2010
In the beginning of 2010, the Swedish Secret Police (SÄPO) was assigned by the Swedish government to investigate and describe “violence inclined Islamist extremism in Sweden, discernable processes of radicalization in violence inclined Islamist environments in Sweden, and tools and strategies to be used in obstructing radicalization.”
The report was finally published December 15, just four days after the suicide bombing – classed as a terrorist crime – in downtown Stockholm. In the report “violence inclined Islamist extremism” is defined as “activities threatening security which are Islamistically motivated, and which aims at changing the society in a non-democratic direction by the use of violence or threat of violence.” Radicalization, further, is defined as: “the process leading to a person, or a group, supporting or exercising, ideologically motivated violence to support a case.”
The report is the result of a systematic adaptation and analysis of already existing material gathered by Säpo, and it is focusing on last year (2009). But one has also made use of other publically available sources, such as other authority reports and research articles.
According to the report there are approximately 200 individuals engaged in violence inclined Islamist extremism in Sweden – even though this activity mainly pursue to support or aid terrorism in other countries, such as Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and North Africa. The only somewhat common denominator for radicalization amongst these individuals seems to be that the majority consists of men in between 15-30 years of age. Out of these 200 individuals SÄPO estimates 80 percent to have friendly bonds or other connections to each other. Not surprisingly Internet seems to be the common ground for these individuals and groups.
In the report SÄPO states that “the threat from violence inclined Islamist extremism in Sweden is currently not a threat against fundamental societal structures or the Swedish form of government.” The greatest potential threat towards Sweden, SÄPO concludes, is the long term effects of individuals travelling abroad to affiliate with violence inclined Islamist organizations.
The general conclusions of the report are that violence inclined Islamist extremism and radicalization is a reality in Sweden and must be seen as a potential threat. Presently, however, this is to be considered a limited phenomenon which is to be met with general crime preventive measures, already conducted in Sweden.