Syrian president Bashar al Assad has claimed that Scandinavian countries have become a safe-haven for the most dangerous Jihadist leaders and expressed his concern for the safety of European countries from Islamist attacks.
Speaking in an English-language interview with a Swedish tabloid, the Syrian leader claimed the number of Islamists finding succour in Scandinavian countries put both them, and the wider world, at risk.
Assad said it “doesn’t take a genius” to see the instability in Syria, caused in part by a willingness of Western states to allow the Arab spring to bring on a part collapse of the Syrian state, causes terrorist attacks in Europe.
Before international sanctions and uprisings by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants weakened the al-Assad family grip on the region, the Ba’athist government of the Syrian state ensured the religious freedom and plurality that is now being stamped out in some areas by the ISIS Caliphate.
Assad believes by helping him, European leaders can help themselves – both by solving a major global terrorist training hotspot, and by ending one of the main causes of refugees fleeing the Levant to Europe. Speaking to the Swedish Expressen, he said: “many of the Syrians who went to Sweden or any other country, didn’t only leave because of the terrorist acts; they left because of the embargo”, explaining that is caused a shortage of work in the country.
The president of the rump Syrian state, which is fighting a bloody land and air war both against the self-proclaimed Caliphate of the Islamic State, and against the al-Qaeda spin-off al-Nusra, used the interview to set the record straight on a number of issues. Asked about the link between the Charlie Hebdo attacks and Syria he said: “everything that happened in Europe, and I mean terrorist attacks, we warned from at the very beginning of the crisis.
“I said Syria is a fault line, when you mess with this fault line you will have the echoes and repercussions in different areas, not only in our area, even in Europe. At that time, they said the Syrian president is [being] threatening. Actually, I wasn’t threatening; I was describing what’s going to happen”.
Despite the best efforts of the Western world to crush Syria and leave it an ungoverned space ready for absorption by the Islamic State, Assad insists there is no future for the Caliphate in the short term, and the Syrian army will turn the tables against them. Despite that, he has another warning for the West: “ISIS doesn’t have a future, but in the midterm, in the long term, when they indoctrinate the hearts and minds of the people, especially the youths and children.
“This area will have only one future; al-Qaeda future, which is ISIS, al-Nusra, and Muslim Brotherhood, and this is going to be your backyard, [by which] I mean the European backyard.’