According to reports, Swedish jihadists are starting to come back from the Middle East after fighting alongside terrorists. Upon returning to the country, some were allegedly given new identities. Doing so essentially makes it possible for them to hide the fact that they fought in the Middle East, endangering the lives of everyone else in the country.
One of the jihadists given a “protected identity” is Walad Ali Yousef. Back in 2014, he traveled to Syria, where he fought alongside other terrorists for several years. While there, he was photographed posing with an AK-47 and urged people to join the fight. After returning to Sweden, images of his trip surfaced on the internet, making it difficult for him to find a job. “I am looking for many jobs but cannot get one because my pictures are out there,” complained Yousef during an interview. “I just want to forget about everything,” he added.
Bherlin Dequilla Gildo, who joined Syrian terrorists back in 2012, was also given a protected identity upon returning to Sweden. While in the Middle East, he posted pictures of himself posing with lifeless Syrian regime soldiers. In one picture, the caption called the dead bodies were “Assad’s dogs.”
While speaking with reporters about the government’s policy, Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert, highlighted some of the biggest problems with protecting people like Yousef and Gildo. “The really dangerous ones have not come back yet,” he explained, suggesting that things will only get worse as more and more people come back from fighting in the Middle East. Currently, there are roughly 150 Swedish nationals trying to return. “The vast majority may not do anything, but they are still a danger to the authorities and it must be managed,” reasoned Ranstorp, noting, “it is important for the police to be able to prioritize this area so that they do not become dangerous for society.”
However, Christina Kiernan, a coordinator against violent extremism in Stockholm, told reporters that a current lack of communication between Sweden’s National Security Service and local municipalities has made tracking returnees extremely difficult. Specifically, she said, “the information is difficult for a municipality to get. There is secrecy that prevents the transfer of information.”
Unfortunately, Sweden isn’t the only country struggling to manage potential terrorists returning to their country after extended stays in countries like Syria and Iraq. Law enforcement officers in the UK also appear to be having a hard time keeping track of potential terrorists. Despite the fact that nearly 400 people who left the UK to support or fight for the so-called “Islamic State” have since returned, government officials don’t seem to be doing much to monitor them.
For instance, during a recent interview on Good Morning Britain, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, was confronted by Susanna Reid about the government’s failure to keep track of potential terrorists. “How are we letting people back into the UK — who haven’t just been trained, they’ve actually fought, potentially against our troops — how are we letting them back in without knowing exactly where they are?” asked Reid, adding, “out of all the thousands of people we’re concerned about, surely those who’ve actually gone to fight are the biggest risk.”
Shockingly, Khan replied by telling her that they weren’t keeping track of them. When asked why, he blamed the central government for not giving the Metropolitan Police Service (MET) enough money.
To clarify why government officials weren’t doing more to monitor returning jihadists, Tony Long, a former Scotland Yard Specialist Firearms Officer, pointed out that legal restrictions make it difficult for security forces to monitor potential terrorists. “It’s very very difficult because of the legal restrictions that are put on the security services and the police to actually monitor all of these people,” he told reporters.
Still, he believes something needs to be done. “These are combat-hardened soldiers,” continued Long, adding, “they might not be trained in the way that NATO might train their soldiers but they’ve seen more close quarter conflict and more urban fighting than probably most members of the British Armed Forces and you have to respect that.”
Anyone from Europe who visits the Middle East to support radical Islamic terrorism should lose their citizenship and not be allowed back into the EU. Doing so will hopefully help keep people safe.