Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s Prime Minister and the leftist Socialist Party leader has ruled out the possibility of stripping Swedish Islamic State Fighters of their citizenships and has said that they have the right to come back to the country.
Nyheter Idag recently reported that Löfven stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had previously warned those who were traveling in and around the region in which IS had been fighting, that those individuals who were captured shouldn’t anticipate any assistance from the Swedish government at a consular level.
The prime minister did, however, state that he would refrain from stripping the Islamic State fighters of their Swedish citizenship, asserting that it was their right to return to the country if they desired. He then said that upon their return, it would be up to the intelligence service and law enforcement to keep track of the returning terrorist whereabouts and to potentially arrest and prosecute them.
Löfven’s statement lies in stark contrast with what right-wing populist leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson, had to say regarding the issue. Åkesson stated, “If they choose to travel away to support the terrorist organization Islamic State, in my opinion, they have used up all of their rights to call themselves Swedish. Then they should also not be a citizen.”
In a reaction to the shocking comments given by Löfven, Paula Bierler, the Sweden Democrat’s migration policy spokeswomen, agreed with Åkesson, writing, “The people who left Sweden to join the Islamic State should be considered to have terminated their Swedish citizenship.”
Since 2012, at least 150 of the approximately 300 terrorists that left the country to fight for the Islamic State have now returned back to Sweden. According to Jan Jönsson, a local politician, at least 19 of these Islamic State terrorists are currently living in the Swedish Capital of Stockholm.
In Malmö, a southern city that’s become infamous for its no-go zones and significant Middle Eastern and North African migrant population, around twenty or so former Islamic State terrorists have purportedly been operating underground and illegal mosques and using them to recruit new radical Islamic terrorists for their jihad against the West.
Michael Helders, an anti-violence extremism activist, stated that former IS fighters are often ‘seen as heroes for young people who are at risk and radicalized.’ He added that “It increases concern, of course, and creates instability. People are worried about their children.”
Of the 300 Islamic terrorists that left Sweden to join Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, about half have returned to Sweden, whereas 50 are thought to have been killed, while another 100 remain in the Middle East.
As the dismantling of the Islamic State continues, we can expect this issue to remain at the forefront of political debate in many western European countries.