If Trump was wrong on terrorism in Sweden, were the travel advisories from Australia, Britain, Canad
In mid-February, President Donald J. Trump, was accused of inventing a terrorist attack in Sweden during a rally in Florida, and was believed to have confused Sweden with a terrorist attack on the city of Sehwan in Pakistan. Here is what the President said, “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.” Did he confuse Sweden with Sehwan? Maybe. But was he right about the security situation in Sweden, Germany, Brussels, and Paris? I think that the answer is yes as yesterday’s commentary on the last three to four weeks of Islamic State-related activity in Europe demonstrates to a fine point.
Sweden has a history with Islamic terrorism, and in fact, was the first Nordic country to suffer an improvised explosive device attack in the form of a pressure cooker bombs. On 11 December, 2010, two bombs exploded in central Stockholm, Sweden, killing the bomber and injuring two people. The incidents were described as terrorism at the time, and Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen, was suspected of carrying out the attacks. In 2011 it was revealed that there was a plot to carry-out a terrorist attack to disrupt the Gothenburg International Art Biennial by killing noted Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Vilks had previously drawn some cartoons of Mohammed the Prophet that stirred anger and controversy. Three men were arrested including; 26-year-old Abdi Aziz Mahamud, a 26-year-old Somali citizen; Salar Sami Mahamood, 24; and Abdi Weli Mohamud, 26, both citizens of Sweden, and were charged with planning to stab Vilks to death. All were carrying knives when detained but were later acquitted at trial. There have been several Islamic-inspired terrorist plots to kill Vilks ever since some at the behest of Al Qaeda. In 2016, Aydin Sevigin was arrested and convicted of planning to carry-out an ISIS-inspired suicide bombing using a homemade pressure-cooker bomb. Islamic terror and right-wing white supremacist-style terrorism is no stranger to Sweden.
A quick review of travel advice from our Commonwealth ‘cousins’ in the “Five Eyes” communities further illustrates the point that there are both security, safety and terrorism concerns.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advice says that, “Sweden's domestic terrorism-threat assessment remains at level 3 of 5, indicating an elevated threat level.”
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice to Sweden warns that, “Violent crime does occur; instances of gang related crime, including shootings and explosions, have been reported in Malmö and Gothenburg.” On the terrorism front, the Foreign Office warns, “There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.”
Global Affairs Canada travel advice is similar to Britain’s in that it cautions, “Since 2014, there has been an increase in gang and organized crime-related violence in southern Sweden, including in the cities of Gothenburg and Malmö. In Malmö, several car bombs were reported at the end of 2014. Grenade attacks on property have been taking place in the city since January 2015. On March 18, 2015, an attack occurred at a restaurant in Gothenburg, killing two people.” On the terrorism front, the Canadian government notes that, “The Government of Sweden maintains a public alert system on terrorism. The threat level for the country is at level 3 (elevated threat) on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the most serious). “
The New Zealand Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade similarly cautions that, “we advise caution. The Swedish Security Service maintain a national terrorism threat level for Sweden. The Swedish authorities currently assess the threat level as “elevated” (Level 3 out of 5).”
The United States Department of State is probably the most benign saying that, Sweden has been subject to terrorist incidents in the past, and the potential for a terrorist incident remains… and the majority of violent crimes occur in larger cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo.”
For the record, there were five shootings in the first two weeks of January 2017, and at least 12 killings in 2016 in Malmo Sweden, the main point of entry for migrant, refugee and asylum, seekers. There were several report car bombings in 2014 and at least one in 2015. A Swedish police officer’s car exploded outside his home on 6th February, 2017. There were 34 or more grenade bomb attacks in Sweden in 2016, and four to date in 2017, one of which was the 13th of February. On 20 February 2017, rioting broke out in Rinkeby, a largely immigrant-populated suburb of the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Rinkeby was previously the site of riots in 2010, and 2013, and has a large Muslim population that lives in what some have described as a ghetto. Most of this violence has been blamed by the Swedish government on “organized crime” and “gangs.” But is it really the Nordic equivalent of the Sopranos or is it more sinister, is it an inconvenient, hidden truth, that some of it is Islamic-inspired terrorism.
It was reported this week, that Sweden has reintroduced mandatory conscription in response to growing concern over the return of Russian military power. The goal or objective of conscription outside of security, thousands of teenagers rounded up each year, and pressed into military service, given an education, discipline, and training and to turn them into stellar citizens. Or is it something else?