Soft Sweden Risks Becoming Refuge for Returning Jihadists Wanting to Avoid Punishment, Warns Prosecutor

Men, suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, gather in a prison cell in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh on October 26, 2019. - Kurdish sources say around 12,000 IS fighters including Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries are being held in Kurdish-run …
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

The chief prosecutor of Sweden’s National Security Case Unit has criticised the country’s terror laws, saying they could create a situation where terrorists flee to the country to escape prosecution in other nations.

Prosecutor Per Lindqvist stated that Sweden could become a haven for members of groups like the Islamic State, as the country’s laws are often much less strict than other European Union member states.

Lindqvist said the country needed tough laws, telling the Sveriges Radio: “It remains an urgent and almost immediate need, I would say.”

“We run the risk of having individuals who come to Sweden to avoid criminal proceedings in other countries. I think that could be a concern in the future, and I think it’s a concern now,” he told the broadcaster.

Lindqvist’s warning comes just a day after it was revealed that not a single individual has been charged or even arrested since Sweden’s new anti-terrorism laws were put into force last year.

The laws on paper allow for the prosecution of those associated with terrorist groups, but cases have been difficult to prove, as it requires evidence such as handling weapons or explosives.

“How the rules have been designed makes it quite difficult to prove this crime. A sign of this, of course, is that we have still not brought any charges so far since the law was created, nor have we requested any person to be placed in custody under this new legislation,” prosecutor Lindqvist said earlier this week.

Over the last several years, many Islamic State members have returned to Sweden. In 2019 there were reports that some of the returnees had begun recruiting followers in the multicultural southern city of Malmö.

Another investigation into the activities of 41 returned fighters in 2019 revealed that many had gone on to commit serious crimes after returning from the Middle East, including drug crimes, extortion, money laundering, and abuse.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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