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Monday, July 3, 2017

3,000 Violent Extremists in Sweden, Majority have Islamist Motives – Security Police

© TT News Agency / Reuters

Sweden is home to some 3,000 violent extremists, the head of the security police has announced. Two-thirds have Islamist motives, while the others belong to far-right and far-left movements.

The numbers were revealed by Säpo chief Anders Thornberg during Almedalen Week, an annual political festival which takes place on the island of Gotland.

Elaborating on the figures, Thornberg stressed that although "few extremists" have the "will and ability" to carry out attacks, they must be found and closely followed.

"It's important that everyone in Sweden takes responsibility to end this trend," he said, as quoted by the Local. 

Thornberg's comments come less than three weeks after he announced that the number of militant Islamists in Sweden had grown from "hundreds to thousands." 

He went on to state that Säpo currently receives around 6,000 intelligence tip-offs per month regarding terrorism and extremism, compared to an average of 2,000 a month in 2012.

His comments follow an incident in April in which an Uzbek national who had expressed sympathies for jihadist groups, including Islamic State, plowed through pedestrians on a Stockholm shopping street, killing five and injuring 15 others.

Swedish national Osama Krayem has also been charged with committing terrorist murders over the 2016 Brussels Metro bombing.

Some 300 people from Sweden are known to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join organizations such as IS since 2012, Säpo previously stated. Around 140 have since returned to Sweden and around 50 are said to have died abroad.

Meanwhile, Sweden has seen an increase in activity from far-right extremists in recent years with three sympathizers of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) currently on trial in connection with a series of bomb incidents near Gothenburg.

Sweden’s threat assessment is currently at three - “elevated” - on a five-point scale. It has remained at that level since 2010.