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'Extremists Recruit Openly Without Resistance': Swedish Researcher Warns of Growth in Islamism

© AP Photo / TT News Agency / Pontus Lundahl(File) A police car is parked in front of a mosque in Uppsala, Sweden Thursday Jan. 1, 2015
(File) A police car is parked in front of a mosque in Uppsala, Sweden Thursday Jan. 1, 2015 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2021
Magnus Ranstorp of the National Defence College has described Sweden's failure to address the growing threat of Islamism as a "chain reaction of lateness on all various levels and different fronts", a "disaster", and a "betrayal of society".

Despite Daesh's* self-proclaimed "caliphate" having fallen, the threat of Islamism is far from over, Sweden's leading terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp of the National Defence College has warned.

Furthermore, the security threat against Sweden has increased and is expected to further spike in the next few years, national broadcaster SVT reported.

According to Ranstorp, the current situation, where "extremists recruit openly without resistance", is largely a product of the authorities' ham-handed approach and lack of timely measures.

"So it has been a chain reaction of lateness on all various levels and different fronts. It has basically been a disaster. Especially in the field of prevention, but also in terms of legislation", Ranstorp told SVT.

By Ranstorp's own admission, he started to warn the authorities about Swedish residents leaving the country to join Islamist organisations in Syria as early as 2012, yet nothing happened. Two years later, when the so-called "caliphate" was proclaimed, the flow increased. Still, little if anything was done to stop the ongoing radicalisation and foreign trips.

Today, it has been established that 300 Swedes joined the world's most heinous terrorist organisations, placing Sweden at the top of Europe in jihadists per capita. Since then, 150 of them have returned home. Nearly none of them has been convicted, both due to the burden of proof and the emphasis on reform and rehabilitation rather than punishment.

According to the latest annual report by the Security Police Säpo, the radicalising environments that generate extemists largely remain intact. At the same time, the returnees are judged to have both the ability and experience to commit murder and terrorist acts.

"Säpo does a good job. But they alone cannot stop violent Islamism", Ranstorp ventured, calling it a "betrayal" of the Swedish people that nothing more has been done to stop the proliferation of violent Islamism.

Violent Islamism in Sweden has been steadily increasing. Ten years ago there were about 200 pro-violence Islamists, today there are about 2,000.

"For me, it is completely devoid of reality and a betrayal of society in how it has been handled. I get very angry when I think of all the lost years", Ranstorp said.

According to Ranstorp, relatives have turned to him for help in stopping their children from travelling to the Middle East.

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"They were desperate. It shows a bit that they turn to a researcher, as they cannot get help from the authorities", he said. "And they definitely have reason to be worried even today, because radicalisation and recruitment are going on right now", Ranstorp concluded, adding that things are only getting worse.

A similar sentiment was shared by former senior Social Democrat Nalin Pekgul, Sweden's first Muslim woman to serve as an MP. By her own admission, she warned about the growing Islamism 15 years ago, but received nothing but criticism from her party comrades. She sees today's development as a vindication, but finds little solace in it.

"This is a reminder that society has not taken this seriously. When will they wake up? I feel sad, frustrated, and angry. When will Sweden wake up?", Pekgul said.

* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/"Islamic State") is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other nations

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