Sweden’s terror threat level has been raised to “high” for the first time in the country’s history after the head of the Säpo security service said police were hunting a suspected terrorist.
The threat level is now at the second-highest out of five possible categories, meaning “the probability that players have the intent and ability to carry out attacks is high”.
Anders Thornberg, Director General of Säpo, called a press conference yesterday evening telling reporters that a person suspected of plotting a terror attack had been “arrested in absentia”, meaning police were still looking for him.
Shortly after the announcement, a grainy image of the suspect was published by tabloid Expressen and soon spread across social media. Police and security services later confirmed the man in the image was the suspect, but refused to confirm reports his name is Mutar Muthanna Majid.
— Expressen (@Expressen) November 19, 2015
Mr Thornberg told reporters: “We’re at an intensive operative stage and are working to analyse the information.”
“Violent Islamism is still the biggest threat against Sweden,” he added.
Meanwhile, The Local reports that Sweden’s public broadcaster STV also claimed to have information saying the suspect is 25-years-old and originally from Iraq. They also said he had fought for Islamic State in Syria.
Stockholm police officer Patrik Eriksson told Dagens Nyheter newspaper: “It was not completely unexpected that the picture would be shared. We are prepared for people starting to phone in tips now. There are pros and cons, but more eyes watching out are undeniably better.”
Mats Sandberg of the country’s National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT) said: “ISIS views Sweden as a legitimate target of violent Islamism. We’re not a prioritised target, but a legitimate one.”
Säpo said in a statement: “The attacks in Paris on November 13 are a possible indication of an increased capability on the part of ISIL to carry out relatively complex attacks in Europe.
“Certain individuals could possibly become inspired to carry out attacks.
“Many individuals have returned to Sweden after having fought in Syria or Iraq and many are still there and could return.”