February 20, 2015 / 4:19 PM / 3 years ago

Sweden ends job-seeker program accused of recruiting militants

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government is shutting down a job coaching program for new immigrants after complaints that it was being used to recruit people for militant groups, a state official said on Friday.

The decision comes days after a gunman killed two people in neighboring Denmark at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech, increasing concerns about the threat of home-grown militancy in the Scandinavia region.

“We have been alerted by participants that coaches have tried to recruit them to terrorist organizations,” said Patrik Svensson, spokesman for the National Labor Agency that runs the scheme, adding that the government had passed on the information to the Swedish security service to investigate.

Svensson said the alleged recruitment drive might be linked to the Islamic State group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Around 32,000 job-seekers have a coach assigned under the scheme, which was introduced in 2010 to address high unemployment among new immigrants.

Sweden saw a botched suicide bombing in Stockholm four years ago and the conviction in 2012 of three Swedes for plotting to kill people at a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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