Counter-terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, Photo: Karin Wettre/Sveriges Radio.
Counter-terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, Photo: Karin Wettre/Sveriges Radio.

Fighting terrorism requires community involvement

“The problem when you only rely on intelligence is that you will miss some people."
6:06 min

Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called for the defence of the open society. We talked to Magnus Ranstorp, Research Director at the Center for Asymetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College. He says Sweden needs to get ahead of the game:

“You cannot solve the problem just through intelligence and police,” he tells us. “They are important, but at the same time one needs to have local municipalities and developed action plans, but also to get a broader engagement, and create sensors out in the community where people are getting radicalized.

“There is not enough emphasis on that, and those kind of measures work in parallel with the more repressive measures with the police, the judiciary, and the laws and so on…if you do not intervene early enough, then you are facing a losing battle. And that is what I think some of the countries like Belgium and France, they only rely on the repressive measures, therefore they are in the situation they are in right now, where they are constantly fire-fighting on different levels.”

But does that mean that countries like Sweden are in a better position and have a better handle on the problem? Are we safer?

“I think Sweden has a huge need to improve its local measures. But over the past year there’s been a vast improvement in terms of recognition of the problem. But we need to deepen and widen those programs. We’re only in the starting phases of thinking through ‘what can we do with radicalized youth?’

“The problem when you only rely on intelligence is that you will wait and wait until these people pop up on the radar screen of law enforcement, and sometimes you will miss some people.”

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