Nov 22, 2015

Sweden on a 4-high.

Today the prosecutor decided to release the man arrested on suspicion of preparation to commit a terrorist offense. He is no longer a suspect. But the terrorist threat remains. Sweden is not safe. And this is new to us.

Watching the news early Thursday evening, I hear a reporter talking about the intensified police presence, and with a tendency of a smile, saying that it’s not likely though to find the hunted terrorist in the inlands of northern Sweden. Some hours later the man was caught in the small town Boliden, about two hours north of Umeå.

A week ago Europe was struck and chocked by the terrorist attacks in Paris. It has happened again. This time the target was ordinary people at restaurants, a sports arena and a metal concert. An act carefully organized and successfully conducted, looking at it with ISIL eyes. It seems like we are impotent protecting ourselves against this horrendous force. And this weekend Brussels is on red alert.

The Swedish scale for terrorist threat is a 5-level. In mid September the Swedish Security Service raised the level from a 2  - low, to a 3 - elevated threat. The attack in Paris didn’t change that. 

But on Wednesday the threat was upgraded to 4 - high. The decision was based on material from the National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT) which is responsible for producing threat assessments for Sweden and for Swedish interests abroad. A man was arrested in absentia on November 17 on suspicion of preparation to commit a terrorist offense.

That’s why, most everywhere in Sweden, police were patrolling streets, squares, train and subway stations, bus terminals, and even the northern inland, sparsely populated. Who would have imagined though, that’s where this man would be found?

Sweden has, this far, only had terrorist act as a failed attack. December 2010 two explosions happened in downtown Stockholm. Only the bomber himself died. It could have been so much worse.

There was something peculiar with this man arrested though. A 22-year old who hade been living among the 1600 inhabitants of Boliden with his name on the door at the asylum accommodation since September. Could he really be a terrorist?

It’s been a couple of tensed days here. But no. He wasn’t. It became clear after interrogation. The young man is released and promised support from Swedish authorities. He will need it. To be arrested as a possible terrorist must be nothing less than a trauma.

The Swedish Security Service claims though that the arrest, at that time, was the right thing to do. And Sweden is still on a 4 - high, on the 5-level scale for terrorist threat. As some circumstances still need to be clarified, the work continues. The Swedish Security Service will conduct additional interrogations with a number of people to obtain information on the alleged attack plotting against Sweden, with a view to proving the allegations wrong. Yes. let’s hope that will be the outcome.

What made me really worried, besides being on a 4 - high, was the fact that the arrested man was found in an asylum accommodation. This fall, when the worst refugee situation since World War 2 is happening, I am ashamed to say they are not welcome everywhere. As of late October, 17 asylum accommodations in Sweden were set on fire and the xenophobic forums on the Internet is filled with hatred and abuse.

If an extrovert 22 year old swimming in the public pool and liking the local grocery store in Boliden on Facebook, had done what he was on reasonable suspicion arrested for, the resistance for and the fear of welcoming refugees would certainly increase. I am relieved that wasn’t the case. And hoping asylum accommodations will feel safe both to Swedes and refugees in the future.

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