Sweden lowers national terror threat level

Swedish police stand by police cars outside a house used as a temporary shelter for asylum seekers in Boliden in northeastern Sweden Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, after police arrested a man believed to be suspected of planning terror crimes in Sweden. (Robert Granstrom/TT via AP)
Swedish police stand by police cars outside a house used as a temporary shelter for asylum seekers in Boliden in northeastern Sweden Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, after police arrested a man believed to be suspected of planning terror crimes in Sweden. (Robert Granstrom/TT via AP)
Swedish security officials lowered the country’s terror threat level from four to three on Wednesday, while noting that the situation remains “serious.”

The national threat level was raised from three to four on a five-grade scale following the deadly terror attacks in Paris in November 2015. The decision to lower it again now is based on strategic analyses from the National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment, according to a statement from Säpo, the Swedish intelligence service.

“I have made an overall assessment and decided to return to the heightened threat level which has applied in Sweden since the fall of 2010,” said Anders Thornberg, the head of Säpo.

Thornberg said the decision comes following a consultation with the heads of the National Defence Radio Establishment and the Military Intelligence and Security Directorate.

Säpo also stated that lowering the threat level does not mean that there is no terrorist threat at all in Sweden. According to the National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment, militant Islamists view Sweden as a legitimate target, even if it is not a priority target.

‘Somewhat clearer picture’

There is still a small number of actors with the intention and ability to carry out terrorist attacks in Sweden, according to Säpo, and Thornberg said in his press statement that “the situation has been serious since 2010 – and it still is.”

Reacting to Säpo’s decision to change the national threat level, Sweden’s home affairs minister Anders Ygeman said: “It is an independent decision by the authority. I have great confidence in Säpo’s judgement and in their efforts to ensure our security and safety.” Ygeman’s written statement was cited by news agency TT.

When the threat level was raised in Sweden last year, the terrorist attacks in Paris had just taken place.

“The attacks lead to intensive efforts among Europe’s intelligence and security services to analyse and evaluate the situation. Even if many unanswered questions still remain, the overall picture has become somewhat clearer since then,” said Thornberg.

Related stories from around the North:

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News

Norway: Norwegian police indentify Russian intelligence targets, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer

Sweden:  New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

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