Scandinavian Countries Talk Tough on Restricting Jihadi Defectors

Scandinavian Countries Talk Tough on Restricting Jihadi Defectors

The Swedish government is set to outlaw travel in order to engage in terrorist activities, and will include punishment for those who intend to do so, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has announced.

Reinfeldt has however stopped short of withdrawing citizenship from those who take part in foreign terror activities, The Local has reported.

“It is absolutely a serious problem that people are going to other countries and participating in wars,” Reinfeldt said during an interview with Sveriges Radio. “It’s a serious problem while they’re there, but also when they come home.”

The announcement follows a similar statement made by the Norwegian Minister for Children and Equality, Solveig Horne, who on Monday commented “We will turn over every stone to find the necessary measures to prevent radicalization and extremism. We will begin discussion about introducing regulations on revocation for any citizen causing serious damage to vital government interests or who has volunteered to serve in foreign military services.”

On measures to revoke citizenship, Reinfeldt said that he was reticent to go down that route as he didn’t want Sweden to appear as though it had “citizenship trials.”

Current Swedish law already prohibits recruitment for terrorist activities, and providing terrorist training. It does not, however, make illegal travelling to attend such training. There are 80 Swedes known to the authorities to be fighting in Syria, and several in Ukraine.

A bill was also presented in the French Council of Ministers last week, which, if passed, would enact a ban on foreign travel for up to six months for those suspected of being radicalized, with authorities given the power to seize their passports. Airlines would have to notifiy the authorities the moment any such person made a booking.

The bill also includes measures to order internet providers to block jihadist  recruitment websites. Around 800 French citizens and residents are believed to either be in Syria or to have returned from that country following involvement with terrorist organisations. That number includes several dozen women.

Following the French proposal, Danish Members of Parliament called for their government to consider similar options.

“The threat presented by these Danes who go to Syria to fight should be taken seriously,” Karsten Lauritzen, a left wing MP told the Danish newspaper Politiken. “Denmark should take inspiration from what other countries do, and we are open to anything that will really work.”

A spokesman for Karen Hækkerup, Denmark’s Socialist Democrat Justice Minister, told Politiken “I won’t rule anything out, but the important thing for us is that it has an effect. We want to learn from other country’s experiences, and everything that contributes to putting a stop to people going to Syria is in play.”

Meanwhile in the UK, Ukip leader and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage called for the government to strip British resident jihadists of citizenship by amending and invoking use of a little known, 144 year old law. In a press statement, Farage said “”in choosing to quit the UK to fight abroad, [UK National Islamic State Fighters] have rendered themselves effectively stateless by conforming to an ideology of wanting to create a terrifying caliphate. If they choose to leave the UK they simply should not be allowed to return. Where intelligence identifies UK nationals fighting for IS their repatriation absolutely should be blocked.”