(Reuters) – Sweden, once cited by Osama bin Laden as the kind of country al Qaeda did not attack, is facing a rising threat from Islamist militants because of the crises in Iraq and Syria, its spy chief said in an interview on Friday.
Anders Thornberg told Reuters the number of Swedes traveling to fight in those countries had tripled in the past year, and record immigration to the Nordic country was making it vulnerable to infiltrators from militant groups.
Expanding on comments in the security services’ annual report last week, he also said Russian espionage had stepped up since the Ukraine crisis: one in three Russian diplomats in Sweden were operating as spies, and there were signs of “war planning” from Moscow to test the country’s defenses.
Sweden’s traditional neutrality was long seen as shielding it from militant threats, as acknowledged by al Qaeda leader bin Laden in a speech in 2004. But in recent years it has contributed to military missions in Afghanistan and Mali, both Muslim countries.
Thornberg, head of the SAPO security police, said there were far more radicalized Swedes involved in Syria and Iraq over the past two years than in the previous 10 years of other insurgent campaigns.
“We can see some unholy alliances,” he told Reuters. “Before we had terrorists from North Africa, from Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan. But now all these groups that were divided before have a common cause in going to Syria and Iraq”…
But remember, this has nothing to do with Islam. Celebrate diversity!