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Sweden debates fate of returned ISIS fighters

Sweden debates fate of returned ISIS fighters

Sweden government faced another sensitive issue, a returning of the ISIS fighters. While some European countries are investigating all returning foreign radicals, Sweden is not, and that causes a growing concern.

In Sweden, the research on terrorism and countering violent extremism are conducting at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish Defence University. Magnus Ranstorp, its head, said the idea of investigating all returning ISIS fighters should be discussed as soon as possible. The government should at least preliminary investigate the returning jihadists. “And it is necessary if you are to have access to go through, for example, their phones and social media accounts,” Ranstorp added.

Some EU countries presume that anyone who spent extended periods in areas controlled by ISIS has likely committed crimes, according to Hans Ihrman of the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s National Security Unit. Swedish police’s ability to access any digital evidence, for example in returning foreign fighters’ phones, decreases drastically, say the experts.

If the police were given the ability to investigate anyone returning from Isis, more Swedish citizens would likely face charges, Ranstorp said. “Of course it would make things easier. Then police would have found much, much more,” he said.

Sweden’s police position regarding returning ISIS fighters

Gothenburg police chief Erik Nord believes that Sweden government is too soft with these terrorists. He was more direct about calling for the revocation of foreign fighters’ citizenship. According to the statistics, around 300 Swedes have left the country to join terror groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012. Roughly half of them are believed to have returned to Sweden, while around 50 are thought to have been killed and another 100 remain in the region.

“Revoking Isis terrorists’ Swedish citizenship is a part of the solution. Simpler, cheaper and more effective than prosecuting them in Swedish court,” Nord wrote on Twitter.

In neighbouring Norway, which criminalized co-operation with terrorist organizations in 2013, a significantly higher number of returning radicals have been investigated and prosecuted. Stockholm is aiming to pass similar legislation later this year, but many feel like the move comes far too late, and experts said they don’t have high hopes for the outcome.