It is most often young men who espouse an al-Qaeda ideology, who have traveled to Syria. Photo: Scanpix. Montage: Sveriges Radio.

Säpo worried about Swedish fighters in Syria

At least 30 Islamists have recently traveled from Sweden, to Syria, to be trained or to fight amongst al-Qaeda-inspired groups, according to the Swedish police's intelligence service, Säpo. Previously, Säpo has not wanted to name a figure for the number of people traveling to Syria for these reasons.

"Some thirty people in a short time – and when global al-Qaeda-inspired ideology has pointed out targets in Sweden as legitimate: We are worried," says Jonathan Peste, head analyst on counterterrorism issues at Säpo to news agency TT.

Peste says the number of trips have picked up speed during the last year-and-a-half, and that in reality, there could be more people traveling to Syria to be trained or to fight amongst al-Qaeda-inspired groups.

In its annual report, presented Monday, Säpo says that only a small minority of those who traveled to Syria, actually have a family or background there, which is another indicator, to Säpo, that the reasons are conviction and ideology.

According to Peste, the absolute majority of these people are still in Syria, but Säpo is worried about their return.

Säpo also states that one-off terrorism plans, unknown to the public, have also been warded off in Sweden, during recent years.

According to Säpo, there are about 200 violent Islamists in Sweden.

The annual report also states that the police are not losing focus on possible terrorism driven by other ideologies, for example, the brand that inspired mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.

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