Anders Thornberg, head of the Swedish Security Service (Säpo), told Swedish Radio News that there could be between 250 and 300 Swedes fighting in Iraq and Syria and that the figure is growing rapidly.
”A week ago, I saw documents showing that 92 people had travelled from Sweden to participate in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Yesterday, the number of confirmed cases was 100,” said Thornberg.
“We have seen an increasing number of young Swedish men travel to Syria, where they receive training in camps and are taught to become terrorists and how to handle explosives and weapons,” Thornberg said. “They are crossing all lines of human behaviour, taking part in beheadings, fighting and killing other human beings,” he added.
Thornberg said many are traumatised when they return to Sweden and may be prepared to commit violent acts here, too. That means Säpo must monitor those individuals, he said.
“We have to be prepared when they return and find out who they are, what their intentions are and what they are capable of doing,” Thornberg said.
In the same interview with Swedish Radio News, Thornberg said that up to 30 Swedish right-wing extremists have travelled to Ukraine to join the nationalists fighting Russia. He said those individuals do not constitute a great threat. They also learn how to handle weapons and explosives but the recruitment to Ukraine is not as organisd as the recruitment to Syria and Iraq.
Between five and 10 of the 30 right-wing extremists are taking part in armed fighting, while five are involved in propaganda and a others have returned to Sweden.