Swedish ‘Immigrant Assimilation Guides’ Accused of Recruiting for Islamic State

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But …
AP Photo/Militant Website, File

The Swedish government has been forced to shut down its “assimilation guide service” after discovering that several of its aides may have been trying to recruit immigrants for Islamic State.

The assimilation guides, who were employed by Sweden’s state job agency Arbetsformedlingen, have been accused of taking bribes and making “recruitment attempts to militant fighting groups”, and have all been fired with immediate effect.

The agency’s general director Mikael Sjöberg told Sweden’s Expressen newspaper: “We have received indication that there have been instances of recruitment attempts or contact-making situations related to various militant fighting groups.”

Although Sjöberg declined to name the suspected militant groups the guides had been recruiting for, a source told Expressen that Islamic State could be among them.

The scheme was introduced four years ago to help newly arrived immigrants integrate into Swedish society. The guides worked for private companies which were hired by the government agency. They had been helping an estimated 32,000 people look for work, but officials became suspicious after the number of complaints from job-seekers rose considerably.

They also found evidence of criminal activity including bribes, blackmail, fraud and even possible terror recruitment activity.

Mr Sjöberg said: “It’s to do with loans or gifts, like tablets, mobile phones and sometimes cash, in order to get connected to a specific assistant.”

Last month Sweden’s national intelligence agency Säpo said that at least 100 Swedish nationals were believed to be fighting with Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria.