"It is the terrorist violence-promoting Islamism that accounts for the grade-three threat level," NCT director Mats Sandberg told Swedish Radio.
According to Sandberg, "lone wolves" who remain unaffiliated with any major terrorist networks and have become radicalized on their own remain the main risk. Sandberg noted that the risk of coordinated attacks involving numerous participants like that in Paris remains much lower compared with solo action, Swedish Radio reported. Whereas Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) returnees and defectors are regarded as a high-risk group, the experience of 2016 showed that the majority of terrorist attacks were carried out by "freshmen" with no combat experience.
"Even if the temptation to join Daesh decreases, this does not mean that the overall magnetism to join this kind of groups is declining. Instead, people will be happy to join al-Qaeda structures that have existed for a long time. Previously, though, al-Qaeda had been a second pick, after Daesh," Mats Sandberg argued.
Nevertheless, Daesh remains by far the biggest inspiration for Swedish extremists. The NCT assessment was also strengthened by the fact that the terrorists seem to have changed their tactics and instead of the heavy recruitment campaigns urge their sympathizers to commit attacks where they are.
In 2010, the Swedish Security Police found that only "a relatively small number of people were involved in violent Islamist extremism" with no evidence that the number of people getting radicalized in Sweden is increasing. Apparently, that was then and this is now. In recent years, Sweden became, in terms of its population, one of Europe's top producers of jihadists, yielding over 300 "foreign warriors" in a nation of about 10 million.
"Combatting terrorism is not made easier by Swedish legislation or the preventive work that was largely neglected for many years. Given this, Sweden is still probably something of a safe haven for jihadists and their sympathizers. It has already paid the price for denying and belittling that fact," Sydsvenskan wrote.
The NCT has brought in leading analysts from the country's Security Police (SÄPO), the National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA), and Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST).