June 1, 2015 / 12:12 PM / in 3 years

Sweden arrests two in raids against militant recruitment activity

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police arrested two people in raids in the capital Stockholm and provincial city of Orebro on Monday as part of a crackdown on recruitment of young men to fight with Islamist militants abroad.

Thousands of European citizens, mainly with Islamic immigrant backgrounds, have joined groups such as Islamic State, an ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim jihadist group that has declared a “caliphate” across parts of Syria and Iraq it has seized.

European Union governments fear that some fighters with European passports could return home and carry out attacks, and are tightening laws and security to pre-empt travel for jihad.

The Swedish Security Police (SAPO) said in a statement that one person had been arrested in Stockholm on suspicion of training recruits for militant combat abroad.

SAPO said it carried out a separate raid in Orebro, 140 km (85 miles) west of Stockholm and arrested one person, which Swedish media said was a 45-year-old man.

SAPO gave no details of the Orebro operation, but a statement said: “(We) have a clear picture that radicalization and recruiting activities are going on in Orebro.”

The city of 140,000 people, it said, had become the fourth largest Swedish source of recruits for Islamist militant factions after Malmo, Gothenburg and Stockholm.

Earlier this year, SAPO’s chief told Reuters that about 300 Swedish nationals had traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight in groups linked to al Qaeda or Islamic State, of whom around 35 had been killed. Around 80 had returned to Sweden.

The Swedish government plans to make traveling abroad to fight for militant organizations illegal.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Simon Johnson and Mark Heinrich

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