05:34 GMT19 January 2021
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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)
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    The truck attack in Stockholm heightened Finns' growing anxiety over the threat of terrorism and compelled the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO) and the Armed Forces to request the expansion of their permission to conduct surveillance.

    According to SUPO's recent estimates, the risk of a terrorist attack committed by a single person or a small group of people has increased in Finland. Furthermore, terrorists with ties to the world's largest jihadist organizations were reported to have increased their presence in Finland.

    SUPO Communications Department head Jyri Rantala reminded the Finnish newspaper Talouselämä that almost 80 people had left Finland to join the jihadi cause in Syria, about 20 of whom have since returned to Scandinavia. According to Rantala, it remains extremely difficult to identify and arrest individual suspects, since, for instance Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) specifically called on its supporters to avoid conducting attacks which require a long period of preparation.

    Accordingly, SUPO argued that the authorities should be given broader rights to gather information in order to be able to effectively parry the terrorist threat. Later this week, a panel of experts will publish a proposition to extend the surveillance powers of SUPO and the Armed Forces, the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported.

    Owing to the severe threats to national security, SUPO could soon be able to open private letters and conduct secret home and workplace searches as part of intelligence gathering, which precedes criminal investigation, Helsingin Sanomat reported.

    So far, the public discussion has been focused on whether either of the Finnish authorities could spy on citizens' internet traffic if it extends beyond Finland's cyber borders. At present, neither SUPO nor the Armed Forces are entitled to gather information in this way. Unlike several European nations, such as Germany and the Netherlands, which already allow their intelligence services to copy confidential information in clandestine operations, this practice has never been implemented in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat said.

    "These various international models have been used as part of the operations of the civilian intelligence working group," an enigmatic Kauko Aaltomaa from the Interior Ministry said, as quoted by Helsingin Sanomat.

    Furthermore, the recent terrorist attack in Stockholm significantly affected Finns' views on threats, a survey by the Finnish national broadcaster Yle and pollster Taloustutkimus showed.

    Before the Stockholm attack, Finns were most afraid of an increase in the number of poor and disadvantaged people in Finnish society. After the truck attack, Finns are most afraid of random acts of violence and terrorist attacks.


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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)


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    covert operations, terrorism threat, SUPO, Daesh, Sweden, Scandinavia, Finland
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