A series of arrests in Lebanon has unveiled a low-profile Daesh* arm operating in Sweden, where terrorist attacks remain the biggest threat due to thousands of Islamist extremists permeating the country, according to official estimations.
A military court in Lebanon has accused a 20-year-old Swedish citizen of Arab origin of preparing terrorist acts on behalf of Daesh. According to the Lebanese intelligence services, the man was part of the group that plotted to kidnap children of diplomats together with fellow Daesh supporters in Sweden, the daily newspaper Expressenreported.
The Swedish citizen was detained earlier this year in the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon. After interrogations with three Lebanese intelligence services, the man, residing in the town of Bromma west of Stockholm, was subsequently accused of having sworn allegiance to Daesh and identified as possessing valuable information about the terrorist group’s activities in Europe, Expressenreported.
According to the Lebanese intelligence service, the man, who was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp al-Yarmouk south of Damascus, spent a month in the Lebanese camp, supposedly to meet his relatives. Inside the camp, though, he contacted a local Daesh leader, whom he had known since 2013 and who was also arrested in Lebanon. During interrogation, the 20-year-old admitted having travelled to Syria to further plot terrorist attacks in Sweden.
Furthermore, the 20-year-old said that in 2015 he pledged allegiance to Daesh and admitted that their latest plan was to kidnap children of foreign diplomats in Stockholm together with fellow Daesh sympathisers. Admittedly, the 20-year-old’s mission was to map movement patterns of Western diplomats’ children in Sweden, including their schools and gyms. This local jihadist cell would be funded by robbery, as the court established it had planned to blow up ATMs.
During a search of the 20-year-old’s seized computer and mobile phone, photographs from a shooting range in Stockholm were found. Later, he admitted visiting the range to improve his arms skills. He also received encrypted instructions on how to manufacture a bomb.
The 20-year-old also participated in demonstrations in Stockholm, including those outside the US Embassy, by his own admission “to study how the Swedish police conduct field work”. In addition to plotting attacks in Sweden, he also acknowledged having collaborated with fellow Islamists across Europe to conduct political assassinations in France.
The law firm that is handling the 20-year-old’s defence has declared that their client is innocent and suggested that the Lebanese intelligence services may have forced him to acknowledge under duress. The man’s father, who resides in Stockholm, has also claimed his son was innocent.
“My son is innocent. You know how the Lebanese military courts are. They grab people on false grounds”, the father told Expressen.
The 20-year-old’s relatives admitted though that he had undergone a change before travelling to Lebanon on the family’s advice. The young man had become depressed and dropped out of school. Previously, he had lifted weights and spent several hours a day in the gym.
The 20-year-old will be brought to justice in Lebanon by the end of December.
According to the Swedish Security Police (Säpo), about 100 of those who had travelled from Sweden to the Middle East to join Daesh are still alive. Some of them are still willing to fight for the “caliphate” to the end or move on to the next conflict area.
Overall, there are around 2,000 Islamist extremists in Sweden, according to Säpo’s previous analysis. Terrorist attacks are listed as the greatest threat to Sweden.
According to existing data, the average Islamist extremist is a 19-year-old male with foreign background. Furthermore, 71.7 percent are born abroad and 26.4 percent are born in Sweden with one or two foreign-born parents. All in all, over 98 percent have immigrant backgrounds.