Sweden raises terror alert because of increased threat of attacks

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweden raises terror threat alert

STOCKHOLM — Sweden has raised the country’s terror threat alert to its highest level ever because of an increased threat of terror attacks, security officials said Friday.

The intelligence agency said the alert had been upped from level two to level three on a five-point scale for the first time in the country’s history. But the agency added that it does not believe that there is any immediate threat and did not mention any possible targets.

The evaluation, based on information gathered by the security police, the military intelligence service and the National Defense Radio Establishment, was due to “changed activity within certain environments in Sweden, activities that are evaluated to be targeting Sweden,” it said.

Officials said that security police chief Anders Danielsson had made the decision in mid-September, but did not elaborate on the information that triggered the decision.

The announcement comes the same week that security officials said a terror plot to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees or other attacks in Britain, France and Germany was still active. Both European and U.S. officials said the plot was still in its early stages and not considered serious enough to raise the terror threat levels.

A Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said eight Germans and two British brothers were at the heart of the al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities and had been calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics.

Magnus Norell, a terrorism expert at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said he believes Sweden raised its alert based on increased activity among the select groups the intelligence service keeps under observation.

“I would think that this means they are seeing more meeting and planning activity among those groups,” Norell said. “But this is absolutely not the same thing as saying there are any concrete plans to attack.”

On Friday, a U.S.-released study by counterterrorism experts said the U.S. and its European allies must work together better to stop radicalized Westerners who travel to terrorist training camps and return home to wage attacks.

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