The threat of terrorism is likely to remain at level two (elevated) on the four-level scale in the short term.

Photograph: Hernán Piñera/Flickr

Individuals or small groups supporting radical Islamist or far-right ideology pose the greatest terrorist threat in Finland, according to the latest National Security Review published by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) on Thursday. The threat of terrorism is likely to remain at level two (elevated) on the four-level scale in the short term.

The threat of far-right terrorism has grown in the West, with an increase over the past 18 months in terrorist attack projects that seek to maximize casualties. International far-right online groups and messaging on social media platforms reinforce the transnational character of the extreme right.

“Supporters and sympathizers of far-right terrorist activity have also been identified in Finland. At the same time, the threat posed by radical-Islamist terrorist operators has by no means dispelled,” Supo Director Antti Pelttari said in a statement.

The total number of counterterrorism targets has remained at approximately 390. “The principal threat,” according to Supo, “is posed by lone operators or small groups who support radical Islamist or far-right ideology, and are motivated by terrorist propaganda. Supo has identified some groups and individuals with the motivation and capacity to carry out a terrorist attack in Finland.”

Supo stressed that the ISIL and al-Qaeda terrorist organizations and their supporters remain a global threat and “they are probably seeking to develop new tactics for mounting attacks and will also continue to encourage attacks in Western countries.”

Significant terrorism support operations found in Finland include financing and dissemination of propaganda. Counterterrorism targets have significant links to foreign terrorist operators and networks. Some people have moved to Finland from conflict zones after participating in and otherwise supporting the operations of armed groups. Coronavirus temporarily hampered intelligence operations by foreign powers in Finland

Although the restrictions introduced in Finland in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020 obstructed unlawful human intelligence operations, new opportunities arose at this time for foreign countries to spy on Finland by infiltrating information systems. According to Supo, Finland is a target of particular intelligence interest to Russia and China.

“A substantial portion of key functions in society were relocated to remote access networks,” Supo noted and added that “the scale of remote access required expedited security solutions that focused on ensuring user access to information. The countries engaged in cyber espionage targeting Finland were not immediately able to take full advantage of the emerging opportunities, as the coronavirus pandemic also affected their own operations. Cyber espionage is currently more active than usual.”

According to Pelttari: “It is highly likely that active cyber espionage will continue, as the pandemic is still hampering travel. New targets include the pharmaceutical industry and viral research.”

Human intelligence returned to its previous level in Finland when restrictions were lifted over the summer. Several dozen foreign intelligence officers are permanently stationed in Finland.