Sweden’s security police, Säpo, is to broaden its fight against terrorism throughout Swedish society. With the help of informers in schools, the social services and associations, Säpo believes it will be able to track Muslim extremists who could be recruited to terrorism.
“We must have more contacts in these environments,” said the chief of the security police, Klas Bergenstrand, in an interview with the newspaper Sydsvenskan.
Säpo is reacting to the experiences of terror attacks in Madrid two years ago and in London last summer. These attacks were staged by second-generation immigrants who lived apparently normal lives in Spain and the United Kingdom. The men behind the London bombings came from regular families in Leeds and Luton.
“Our goal is to find the people (in Sweden) who the English didn’t find in Leeds,” said Bergstrand.
“It’s not the known and established networks which present the greatest risk when it comes to terror attacks. It’s the other people who we haven’t seen yet.”
But leaders of both of the schooling unions reacted strongly to the Säpo chief’s plans as described in Sydsvenskan.
“I am very, very sceptical to the idea that we teachers, or others in the public sector, should act as informers,” said Metta Fjelkner, chairman of the National Union of Teachers in Sweden.
“Säpo has its job to do, we teachers will teach and create a safe environment in the classroom.”
She expressed surprise that a political statement from the Liberal Party’s Jan Björklund in the autumn now appears to have become reality without her union having been informed.
Eva-Lis Preisz, chairman of the Swedish Teachers’ Union, was of the same opinion.
“Teachers have a big job, but it doesn’t include being a police officer,” she said.
The director general of Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, Kjell Asplund, also criticised the idea.
“My immediate reaction is to strongly reject it. This is not the role of the Social Services,” he said.
“I don’t really know how breaching confidentiality in this way would go down. There would have to be an unbelievably strong argument for this to be accepted by the National Board of Health and Welfare.”
The Green Party and the Left Party also protested against Säpo’s new approach.
The Greens compared it to “a witch hunt” and the Left Party accused Säpo of encouraging a crime.
“The risk is that Säpo’s measures create terrorism,” wrote Leif Björnlod of the Greens in a press release.
“Säpo’s plans are just as stupid, undemocratic and racist as the Liberals’ earlier proposal,” said the Left Party’s Lennart Gustavsson.
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