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Terrorism in the Nordics - Statistics & Facts

As recently as a few years ago, incidents of terrorism in the Nordics were not thought of as likely to happen. According to a survey conducted in 2009 on the probability of a terrorist attack in Sweden, only 23 percent of respondents considered an attack as probable within the next five years. But since then opinions have changed. As of December 2018, the share of respondents concerned about terrorism in Sweden was more than half. Whereas in the same year roughly two thirds of Swedish residents thought their country was prepared for a terrorist attack to an inadequate extent, more than half of Finnish respondents stated that Finland was very or fairly well prepared.

In Denmark concerns about terrorist attacks also rose in recent years; while in 2011 only 8 percent of Danish individuals interviewed thought that such an incident would very likely take place in their country, the share of respondents already amounted to 27 percent as of November 2015. Nevertheless, only 5 percent stated that they have felt insecure in public places (very) often; 41 percent even never felt unsafe.

In the recent past the threat has become real. In 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik claimed a total of 77 lives in a lone-wolf terror attack in Norway and four years later two people died after Islamist motivated terrorist acts in Denmark, only to name a few. The latest terror incident on April 7, 2017 claimed five lives – an Englishman, a Belgian and three Swedes - and resulted in 15 injured people after a stolen truck was deliberately steered into a crowded shopping street and the department store Åhlens in Stockholm. According to Swedish police and security service SÄPO, the vehicle was driven by 39-year-old Uzbek national Rakhmat Akilov who was apprehended shortly after the crime. He was one of almost 20,000 asylum seekers in Sweden whose applications had been rejected by the Swedish Migration Agency in 2016.

As established by investigators, the arrested prime suspect had sympathy for extremist groups such as the so-called Islamic State (IS). This terrorist organization continues to grow its network to reach out to different population groups. A survey among pupils in Sweden found that 11.3 percent of those living in the Swedish city of Gothenburg were sympathetic to such groups and 13.4 percent even stated to know someone in their surroundings with the same view. According to another study, there were almost 30 foreign fighters per million inhabitants from Sweden who left for Syria or Iraq between 2011 and 2015. For comparison: 22 left from Denmark and 13 left from Finland, also per million inhabitants for each country.

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