21:10 GMT +316 October 2018
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    Sweden Joins Other Scandinavian Nations in Getting Tough on Terrorists

    © AFP 2018 / Jonathan NACKSTRAND
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    Sweden, which has previously emerged as one of Europe's foremost exporters of jihadists per capita and seen about half of its "foreign fighters" return from the Middle East, is planning to dramatically toughen its legislation regarding participation in a terrorist organization's activities, already implemented by its Nordic neighbors.

    The government investigator, Justice Counselor Stefen Johansson has proposed to change the approach to penalizing terrorist supporters, Swedish Radio reported.

    According to Johansson's proposal, it shall suffice for the prosecution to prove a person's participation in a terrorist organization, as opposed to the present-day situation, where a person's intention of committing a terrorist offense also needs to be demonstrated, which poses difficulties in prosecuting and punishing Sweden's "foreign warriors" for their crimes committed in the Middle East.

    Therefore, assisting terrorists in information management, logistics or publicity will be criminalized. For instance, managing a terrorist organization's finances may thus lead to a two-year prison sentence. In the worst-case scenario of aggravating circumstances, the punishment may be raised to six years in prison.

    Furthermore, the government investigator proposed a clearer definition of a terrorist organization. Unlike a loose congregation of extremists, a terrorist organization must thus be led by the purpose of committing terrorist offenses.

    In addition, doing business with a terrorist organization, such as selling property, will also be criminalized.

    "This is far more powerful and far more comprehensive than the legislation we have today," Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said commenting on the bill. Johansson ascribed the previous lack of such legislation to the fact that Sweden has not been affected by domestic terrorism, unlike many other European nations. According to Johansson, the new law should also target the IRA, the ETA, the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof group.

    The government investigation was concluded in light of the terrorist truck attack on Drottningsgatan in Stockholm, in which five people were killed and 14 seriously injured. After the deadly truck attack by a 39-year-old rejected Uzbek asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov, the Swedish government parties and members of the opposition agreed to extend anti-terrorism legislation.

    READ MORE: Sweden's Dilemma: 'Failed to React on Islamist Threat' to 'Avoid Racism Stigma'

    However, simply being present in a Daesh-occupied area won't count as conclusive evidence for prosecution.

    In 2014, Sweden's Secrity Service SÄPO estimated that about 300 people had left the country to join militant Islamists in the Middle East, predominantly to Daesh. Today, about half of the "foreign fighters" are estimated to have returned to Sweden.

    Their exact number, whereabouts and occupation remains largely unknown, however, as there is virtually no obligation for the returnees and deserters to report to the local authorities. No probation is in force either since no one has been formally charged for lack of evidence.

    By contrast, Daesh jihadists were previously prosecuted and charged in Sweden's fellow Nordic countries Norway and Denmark. In Norway, where similar legislation was introduced in 2013, nine people have been convicted, whereas another 30 are suspected of violating the nation's terrorist law.

    The most recent Nordic case involves 22-year-old Danish-born Anis Laraba, who was sentenced to five years in prison and had his Danish passport revoked. The Algerian-Danish man had traveled to Syria as an 18-year-old, where he joined Daesh.

    READ MORE: 'Racist' Report Finds Islamists Permeate Sweden, Enjoy Secular Support

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    Tags:
    terrorism, Daesh, Morgan Johansson, Denmark, Norway, Scandinavia, Sweden
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