15:02 GMT +310 December 2018
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    Suomi Sounds the Alarm Over 'Lone Wolf' Islamists, Returning Jihadis

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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)
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    Even if Finland is not a primary target for terrorists, it is still running an elevated risk of terrorist attacks, including those from returning jihadists, according to a new annual report issued by the Finnish Security Police (SUPO). Accordingly, individual radical Islamists, so-called "lone wolves" remain the biggest threat against Finland.

    The threat of violence carried out by individual radical Islamists has increased in Europe in general and Finland in particular, SUPO's annual report stated, even if the overall threat level has been unchanged since the autumn of 2015.

    "Finland itself is not a target of any specific terrorist networks. Instead, the increased threat stems from the risk of radicalized individuals committing acts of terrorism, inspired by a violent organization or ideology," SUPO communications expert Verna Leinonen told the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

    The elevated threat is being enhanced by jihadi returnees escaping from Syria and Iraq, where Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) declared a "caliphate" almost three years ago. By SUPO's calculations, about 80 of the volunteer combatants left Finland to side with Islamic radicals in the Middle East. Despite the fact that the Finnish jihadists seem to have a high mortality rate of 25 percent, one in four of them is believed to have returned to Finland from the war zone.

    "Returning jihadists are part of the threat. There is number of radicalized people who are followers of a radical Islamist ideology and may have links to terrorist networks," Leinonen said, ensuring that SUPO is keeping an eye on them.

    According to Teemu Tammikko, a terrorism researcher with the Foreign Policy Institute, Daesh has lost its momentum in the Middle East, and its power is waning. He believes there are several alternatives for jihadists, who are being gradually squeezed out of their "caliphate."

    "The surviving jihadists are at a crossroads. Those who choose to return home can begin with recruitment activities or financial support for terrorist groups, if they still support the jihadi project," Teemu Tammikko said, citing research that shows that the most common choice for the returnees is to abandon the jihadi ideology altogether.

    According to Tammikko, it suffices to subject the returnees to interrogation and examine whether there is evidence that they committed crimes abroad for the authorities to begin re-integration efforts.

    Another prominent detail that emerged in recent months is Daesh propaganda in Finnish on social media. Earlier in March, an article published by a radicalized Finnish national using the assumed name Umm Musa al-Finlandiyyah appeared in a Daesh terror propaganda magazine, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported. The same moniker was earlier used on a Facebook account by a young Finnish woman, who reportedly converted to Islam and was living in Raqqa, Syria.

    In February, a blog spreading Daesh propaganda in Finnish was noticed by the Finnish media. The blog, which has been active since August 2016, was reported to provide appeals from Daesh leaders and texts from Daesh outlets translated into "relatively clear" Finnish. One of the published texts specifically called for the slaughter of the "infidels," stating it was a duty of a "faithful" Muslim to spread fear into the hearts of the unbelievers, Yle reported.

    According to Tammikko, an individual with a knowledge of Finnish earlier appeared to have risen to a command position in Daesh's ranks, which accounted for the rise in Finnish-language propaganda.

    Earlier, SUPO revealed that the majority of Finland's "foreign fighters" lived their whole lives in Finland and held Finnish citizenship.


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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)


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    radical Islam, jihadism, terrorism, SUPO, Daesh, Scandinavia, Finland
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