A researcher at the Swedish Defense Research Agency doesn't think the threat to Sweden has increased after recent bombings in Stockholm and arrests of Swedish citizens.
Swedes engaged in terrorist plots were just caught in Denmark, this comes not long after the suicide bomber caused havoc in Stockholm in the days before Christmas. The five men caught in Denmark, were planning to attack the newspapers Politiken and Jyllands-Postens’ offices in central Copenhagen. Several of these men had Swedish citizenships.
Magnus Norell, researcher at Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut (The Swedish Defense Research Agency) is not surprised however.
“It is a bit rare that Swedish citizens are caught,” he says. “But at the same time it shouldn’t come as a surprise that also Swedish citizens are suspected of terror plans. Eight Swedes have already died in suicide attacks in Somalia and the radical Islamic trends that exist in Europe, also exist in Sweden.”
Norell points out that the Jihad movement is an international one, the phenomenon is global rather than local.
“We sometimes have a tendency to underestimate what we don’t understand and an ideology that is violent is quite foreign to us,” Norell continues. “But we have to understand that other people have different viewpoints.”
The five who were captured in Denmark, were planning an attack that seems to be linked to the publication of the Mohammed drawings in Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. Still, Norell doesn’t think the threat is any greater to Sweden now, knowing about Lars Vilks’ Mohammed drawings.
“No, I don’t think the threat to Sweden has increased the last 6 months. We must understand that this attack wasn’t aimed at Sweden.” And since these militant Islamists are anti the entire democratic society, it’s impossible to meet them half way, according to Norell.
“It doesn’t work that way. And since limiting our freedom of expression isn’t an alternative for us, it’s a very complicated situation. Had it not been for the Mohammed drawings, the militant Islamists would have found another motive. They have no trouble finding motives.” When asked how to solve the problem, Norell concludes:
“It is difficult. Sure, we must have a dialogue, and make sure people are integrated and we have to put limits on what is allowed and not; the usual tools. But it is very hard to reach the really dangerous people. They will not just wake up one morning and think: ‘Thomas Jefferson, it’s liberal democracy we want!’ That won’t happen. They won’t change. It’s probably a lesson we have yet to learn.”
Magnus Norell, Dr., FOI, Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut says "..it shouldn’t come as a surprise that also Swedish citizens are suspected of terror plans."
Photo from last summer’s exhibition “Footprints” at Wanås. The pond in front of the castle was turned into an installation by Tea Mäkipää and Halldór Úlfarsson - "Atlantis," depicting the vulnerability of today's lifestyle. Photo: Anders Norrsell
The Wanås Foundation, consisting of a medieval castle, an organic farm, an art gallery, and a sculpture park, in Knislinge, southern Sweden has become a popular venue. The park’s permanent exhibition is open every day of the year 8am-7pm. Photo: Anders Norrsell