Swedes head to Syria to fight
Swedish Radio News reports that at least 30 Swedes are fighting with the rebels in Syria.
Through a Facebook page for foreign jihadists in Syria, they have made contact with a 22-year-old Swede from Gothenburg who the news report calls Bilal.
Bilal says he has been in Syria for 7 months, and is a member of an al-Qaida affiliated group called Jabhat al-Nusra, which wants to see the imposition of Sharia law there.
"We are fighting against everyone who does not want Sharia," he says.
He’s a bit unclear about what he is doing there, but says sometimes he trains new recruits, sometimes does police work.
Swedish Radio News says Bilal dreams of dying in battle in Syria.
"I’m not returning to Sweden," he says. "God willing, I will become a martyr here."
But the Swedish authorities are concerned that jihadists like Bilal will return to this country radicalized. Jonathan Peste is an analyst at Säpo, the intelligence service of the Swedish police.
He says in Syria these people are dangerous, some have carried out attacks against civilians. "They are increasing their ability to carry out acts of violence," he says. "Many will return to this country, and in al-Qaida’s ideology it is legitimate to carry out attacks in Europe, including Sweden."
What is of concern now, he says, is that there are so many involved. And it is difficult to keep more from going.
"It is very seldom we can stop them," Jonathan Peske says. "We try to find them and talk to them, to tell them how dangerous it is and that the Swedish authorities won’t be able to help them if anything happens."
Jonathan Peste says it’s hard to know, but he does think they have convinced a few not to go.