Overview: There were no terrorist attacks in 2019. The Swedish Security Service annual report stated “the [terrorist] threat remains largely at the same level as a year ago, although very few individuals are likely to have the intent to carry out attacks in Sweden.” The report further stated the threat to Sweden from “Islamist-motivated actors” had not changed significantly from last year; however, “xenophobic and white supremacist groups” were increasing in size and collaborating more frequently with one another. At the end of 2019, the national alert level remained Level 3 (elevated threat, no evidence of planning) on a scale of 5 (attack imminent, evidence of planning).
The government continued efforts to strengthen its CT framework. In October, the government proposed draft legislation that would criminalize collaboration with terrorist organizations and another draft law that would authorize law enforcement access to encrypted data on computers and mobile devices. Parliament will debate the laws in 2020. In November, the Terrorist Investigation Commission completed its systematic review of criminal laws pertaining to terrorism. The report proposed that the government draft a comprehensive, updated terrorism law to replace the existing patchwork of laws.
Sweden is a member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition. In addition to being a leader in humanitarian support to ISIS-affected communities, Sweden deployed 70 military trainers to Iraq in support of Defeat-ISIS efforts.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents reported in Sweden in 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In April, new legislation gave the Swedish Coast Guard increased authorities for maritime law enforcement. The new law also extended the Coast Guard’s mandate to include support for the National Police in its efforts to combat crime and strengthen national security.
In August, the terrorism trial that had begun in December 2018 of five Uzbek and one Kyrgyz nationals concluded. All six defendants were convicted of terrorism financing but then released for time served. The prosecution requested expulsion in all cases, but the Migration Court of Appeal ruled that current conditions in the defendants’ home countries made it impossible to deport them. In October, the government requested the deportation of six “radical” imams who had been detained by the Swedish Security Service. The Migration Court of Appeal ruled the men could not be deported as they risked persecution in their home countries.
Sweden is party to the EU’s identity verification and border management tools such as the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System. Sweden collects and uses API, and some PNR, and exchanges information with other members states on irregular immigration and border control. The EU PNR directive came into force on August 1, 2018. Sweden used the “serious threat to public policy or internal security” justification permitted under the Schengen Border Code to unilaterally prolong the temporary border controls first introduced in 2015 in response to the massive influx of asylum seekers until May 12, 2020.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sweden is a member of FATF. Its FIU, the National Financial Intelligence Service, is a member of the Egmont Group. There have been no changes since 2018. There were no significant updates in 2019.
Countering Violent Extremism: The National Center for Preventing Violent Extremism under the Ministry of Justice coordinated efforts among government ministries, local municipalities, and civil society organizations to share risk assessments, action plans, best practices, and lessons learned. Malmo and Stockholm are members of the SCN.
International and Regional Cooperation: Sweden is a member of the EU and supports CT efforts in regional and multilateral organizations, including the European Commission’s Radicalization Awareness Network, the EU-9 (focusing on FTFs), the Counter-Terrorism Group, the Police Working Group on Terrorism, and Europol.
Sweden funded international CT capacity building projects through development assistance from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), funding to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime-Terrorism Prevention Branch, and funding to the OSCE. Sweden supported the EU’s work with capacity-building projects in prioritized countries and regions, such as Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, and the Sahel.
Sweden provided 200 trainers to the UN MINUSMA and recently extended the mission through 2020. Sweden participated in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan with 25 service members and recently extended the mission through 2020. Sweden was a member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and made humanitarian contributions to ISIS-affected populations in Iraq in addition to development aid funding to Iraq ($105 million for 2017-2021). Sweden extended its deployment of 70 military trainers in Iraq in support of Coalition efforts until the end of 2020. Sweden contributed humanitarian support for northern Syria ($52 million since the beginning of the year). Since 2016, Sweden also implemented a regional crisis strategy for Syria ($190 million) that included resilience support for groups affected by ISIS’s progress. On October 17, the government announced an additional $10.5 million for further efforts in northeast Syria.