Swedish community demands protection

By Nathalie Rothschild, December 22, 2010
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The Swedish Jewish community has appealed to the authorities for greater security provision after an Islamic suicide bomber struck a busy shopping street in the capital, Stockholm.

In a statement, Lena Posner-Körösi, president of the Swedish Central Jewish Council, said: "We have, on numerous occasions, expressed our concern to the authorities and explained our vulnerability. We know from experience that Jewish targets are appealing to terrorists."

The 28-year-old, Iraqi-born suicide bomber, Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, was the only fatality in the 11 December attack in Stockholm. He emigrated to Sweden at the age of 10 and graduated from Luton's Bedfordshire University with a degree in physical therapy.

Days after al-Abdaly narrowly missed wreaking havoc among Christmas shoppers, the Swedish intelligence agency Säpo declared that they had identified 200 violence-promoting Islamic extremists in Sweden. Al-Abdaly had not been known to the agency, however.

The police have stepped up security at Jewish institutions

The police have now stepped up security at Jewish institutions in Sweden, including in Malmö, the third largest city, which has seen a surge in antisemitic hate crimes.

The JSS has advised Jews there not to wear kippot or other Jewish symbols. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre - the Los Angeles-based Human Rights organisation - has issued a travel advisory, urging Jews to avoid visiting Sweden.

A representative of Jewish Security Sweden (who wants to be anonymous for security reasons) said that al-Abdaly had not directed any threats at Jewish institutions or individuals.

He added: "Naturally, Jews in Sweden are particularly concerned, however. We have received phone calls from parents with children in the Jewish school who are afraid that they might be targeted in the future. Unfortunately, as we've seen in other terror attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere, Jews are at the top of the list of targets for Muslim fundamentalists."

According to Säpo, the 200 Islamists, most of them 15- to 30-year-old males, were radicalised in Sweden. The agency said: "It's impossible to completely root out radical, violence-promoting individuals. That's a price you pay for living in an open society."

The Swedish democracy minister, Birgitta Ohlsson, has said that the government is looking to replicate anti-terror and de-radicalisation strategies from the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. She said the way forward is to conduct a broad dialogue with Muslim representatives and to ensure early identification of at-risk individuals.

The JSS said that preventive measures are imperative. "It should start at schools and should involve Muslim communities and inter-faith forums."

Last updated: 1:44pm, December 22 2010