Sweden’s secret intelligence service has revealed it is actively hunting “several” Islamic State terrorists who have reached the country with the intention of launching a mass attack, and the United States Embassy has upgraded its advice to citizens in response to the threat.
Despite the information about a threat to the country, the Swedish security service (SAPO) has chosen not to upgrade the national threat rating. This decision has elicited some comment in the country, especially considering the coming celebrations for the Swedish King’s 70th birthday on Saturday, and Eurovision song contest ina fortnight.
Both high profile events and potential targets, thousands are expected to attend Eurovision, and most of Europe’s royals are invited to attend the King’s birthday on Saturday. Sweden’s Aftonbladet reports SAPO is now being “cautious” after an embarrassing “incident”, where a significant man-hunt was launched to catch an individual who turned out to be an “ordinary refugee”.
Regardless seven or eight Islamist militants are understood to have arrived in the country and are thought to be preparing to launch an operation against the country immediately.
Responding to the threat, the American embassy in Stockholm issued an update to travel guidance to citizens yesterday, stating: “terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation… be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places”.
The statement follows an earlier blanket warning for the whole of Europe issued in March in the wake of the Brussels bombings.
Although the American government has taken the threats seriously, the revelation of the presence of active Islamists terrorists in Sweden has brought into sharp focus the lack of preparedness the authorities have for a mass attack of the kind seen in other European nations in the past decade.
Nor the Stockholm metro and public transit authority, Sweden’s airports, or the emergency services have made any contingency plans, or initiated extra security measures, reports Expressen. A spokesman for the group which owns Sweden’s ten largest airports told journalists because the government hadn’t raised the threat level, they had not acted. Indeed, in the past when the level had temporarily increased they still had not adjusted their practices.
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