The Risk of Violent Hate Crimes and Terrorism Increases in Finland

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Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A man drove to the front of a reception centre in Helsinki’s Pitäjänmäki district and pulled out a handgun on Thursday evening, November 5.

The police had been looking for him after receiving reports of an armed person in the area. They quickly located the man in front of the refugee centre and the police in riot gear pulled the man on the ground and detained him.

In addition to the handgun, a machine gun was found in the car. Luckily, nobody was injured in the incident.

This fall, several receptions centres have been targeted across the country. The most serious incidents involved two refugee centres in Hämeenlinna (southern Finland) and Kouvola (southwestern Finland, which were tried to be burnt.

The risk of violent hate crimes has increased in Finland due to a significant growth in the amount of asylum seekers (a total of about 50,000 for this year), reports the Finnish security intelligence service, Supo (Suojelupoliisi).

The negative atmosphere against refugees increases the risk.

“Even though those attending illegal protests and spreading hate speech are a small minority, the increasing critical and hostile conversation lays a more positive atmosphere for violent actions and provides a matrix for radical ideologies,” Supo said in a bulletin.

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A man giving the Heil Hitler salute to the opponents of racism next to the Bank of Finland in Helsinki on October 3 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

As an example, Supo lists a campaign by the Finnish Resistance Movement SVL, whose members follow the ideology of Nazism and violence. In one of their campaigns, the organisation has spread fliers near reception centres, where they state that one should be careful when moving alone in the vicinity of the refugee centres to avoid being assaulted, robbed or raped.

SVL, which is part of their Swedish parent organisation Svenska motståndsrörelsen, has been involved in a number of acts of violence from stabbings to assaults with fists and tear gas. The known targets have mostly been people involved in politics or participants of support parades for gay people. It’s been evaluated that the organisation involves about 100 to 200 active members in the Nordic countries. According to the interior minister, Petteri Orpo, there’s a risk that the violence conducted by the Finnish radical movements will increase. SVL is under the special surveillance of the police.

According to Supo, the rapid growth of asylum seekers, which currently amounts to about 500 per day, has also increased the number of other protest movements where in addition to familiar organisations new ones have emerged. Some of these organisations are illegal, formed to attack immigrants. Supo also raised a possibility of a heightened risk of clashes between the anarchists and those participating in protests against refugees.

As having been a witness of several rallies where the opposing groups go head-to-head under the hawkish eye of the riot police, I haven’t seen a single punch thrown, but have witnessed several verbal assaults, and several gestures of Sieg Heil.

“Eat shit, Nazis!” the demonstrators against racism shouted.

“You eat shit, you fucking idiots!” was one of the common replies.

After these heated outbursts, the protesters against racism have left the scene in small groups in order to avoid anyone being attacked alone.

The risk of terrorism has also increased in Finland, Supo said.

“During the past few years, the number of people involved in terrorism has grown evenly. The significant number of refugees is likely to speed up the development. Also actions related to supporting and recruiting terrorists may increase.”

“During the past few years, the number of people involved in terrorism has grown evenly. The significant number of refugees is likely to speed up the development. Also actions related to supporting and recruiting terrorists may increase.”

According to Supo, “There are likely people among the asylum seekers who have contacts with foreign terrorist networks.” “Among them may also be people who could be influenced to radical Islam and those who aim to radicalise others.”

The number of people involved in aforementioned networks amount to about 300 in Finland.

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Sadah Anzi, 39, an asylum seeker from Iraq, has been hunted by the terrorists for a decade. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

I had lunch with a friend recently, who said to me:

“I can’t understand the men of the refugee families who leave their families behind to come to Finland . . .”

“Well, they do that because many refugees believe it’s the man’s duty to bring their families to safety, as the man is stronger and more likely to survive the strenuous trip,” I said.

The discussion reminded me of another occasion, where a man holding speeches at a demonstration against the refugees believed that those men are sent to Finland to infiltrate the society in order to cause havoc.

“They are young men. They are in their best throat-cutting age,” he said to the cheering crowd.

“They are young men. They are in their best throat-cutting age,” he said to the cheering crowd.

My friend also held a firm belief that the refugee men travelling all the way to Finland are likely to come here for the social benefits.

“Among them there may be some of them, but when I interviewed the Iraqi refugees in Helsinki a few weeks ago, I could sense their desperation and fear.”

An Iraqi refugee reading an appeal with a trembling voice to the Finnish citizens and the government was in my eyes sincerely afraid that the government, due to stricter EU regulations, will deport him and his friends, who all may very well face death.

It also makes a little sense to me that the young men are willing to risk their lives on the dangerous journey, leave their families and relatives permanently for “free” bread and a few hundred euros per month.

“Those, who really need help, should of course be helped,” my friend said.

“I agree.”

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Petteri Orpo, the minister of the interior. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

In foreign conflicts, especially in Syria and Iraq, the number of those participating in armed action and returning to Finland amount to about 20 people. Because of the fighters leaving Finland, the radical Islamists know Finland better than before. According to Orpo, about 70 fighters from Finland have joined for example the militant organisation Isis. 15 people leaving Finland have died in foreign conflicts, according to Supo.

Supo is also acknowledgeable of people among refugee seekers who have participated in combat, have affiliations to terrorist organisations and have returned to Finland.

Supo is also acknowledgeable of people among refugee seekers who have participated in combat, have affiliations to terrorist organisations and have returned to Finland.

“Those who have participated in the actions of terrorist groups are not granted asylums,” Orpo said.

According to Supo, because of the influx of refugee seekers, the number of those interested in radical Islam has also grown in Finland.

There are small groups and organisations of terrorists in the country who could commit crimes.

The people behind terrorist attacks could be radicalised individuals as well as small groups. The attackers may act by themselves or they may have links to violent organisations functioning abroad. The attacks could be conducted in a short span of time.

Relations between different religious groups have also tightened, for example, because of the conflict between the Syrians and Iraqis.

But what does a heightened risk in the threat assessment actually mean?

According to Antti Pelttari, the head of Supo, the level in the threat assessment has risen from “very low” to a “low level”.

“I wouldn’t say that the citizens should walk on the streets worried,” Pelttari said at the press conference on Tuesday.

Prime minister Juha Sipilä said earlier in the week that, even though the raising of threat level is a “serious matter, we, Finns can still trust in the security situation in our country.”