Swedish security police: “Sweden threatened from all sides”

Published 23 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Charlotte von Essen, Chief of the Security Police.

“Right-wing extremists”, “violent Islamists”, China, Russia and Iran – all pose significant and constant threats to Sweden, warns the Swedish Security Service (Säpo).

– We must all learn to live with the deteriorating security situation, take it seriously and act, says Charlotte von Essen, head of the Swedish Security Service.

– Threats to Sweden are complex. We see that foreign powers and violent extremists are acting in ways that intertwine and reinforce the threats. They fuel division and polarization. This development increases the pressure on Swedish society, said Charlotte von Essen, head of the Security Police (Säpo), at a press conference.

– Foreign powers have a high capacity for different types of attacks, and we know that security threats to Sweden and Swedish interests are ongoing. Developments in the world around us mean that foreign powers have increased their incentives to carry out security threats against the West and Sweden. Their actions are also a threat to other countries, she continues.

The security police also presents a common conspiracy theory that domestic so-called “extremists” in Sweden do not act on their own initiative, but are exploited or act on behalf of “foreign powers”, and that all alleged threats to Sweden are actually connected.

“Foreign powers can use violent extremists and other types of organizations and individuals as proxies to carry out security-threatening activities in a deniable manner”, it is claimed, but no concrete examples are given.

“Serious consequences”

– The serious security situation places higher demands on Sweden’s resilience. An attack on operators carrying out security-sensitive activities could have far-reaching and serious consequences. Society as a whole must be prepared for a worsening situation. We must all learn to live with the deteriorating security situation, take it seriously and take action, Charlotte von Essen continues.

In Sweden, right-wing extremism has long been identified by politicians and authorities as the biggest threat – a collective term that used to include Sweden’s second largest party, the Sweden Democrats. Even nationalist groups that have clearly stated that they reject the use of violence as a political method have often been classified as pro-violence – which is why the term lacks a precise and clear definition.

Instead, since the start of the war in Ukraine, it has become popular to accuse political opponents and others who are disliked for various reasons of being “bought” by Russia or of being Russian agents, something for which Social Democratic party leader Magdalena Andersson was recently heavily criticized.

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