The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (FSIS) on Tuesday said that the rise in the number of asylum seekers had increased the threat of terrorism in Finland. Finland uses a national terrorism warning system, and the FSIS yesterday raised the warning level from “very low” to “low.”
FSIS also said it was tracking about 300 individuals for possible connections to Islamist militant groups. The security agency noted that several of those being monitored were among 25,000 asylum applicants who have arrived in Finland since the beginning of the year.
The FSIS also said that Islamist groups with presence in Finland have been trying to recruit Finnish youths for some time now.
Channel NewsAsia reports that FSFS director Antti Pelttari told national broadcaster YLE that “The sudden change in the refugee situation means a significant threat to Finland’s security.”
So far this year about 700,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in theEU zone. The majority of them come from Syria, with most of the others coming from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea.
Pelttari said fifteen Fins who recently left Finland to join ISIS had been killed in Syria and Iraq, while twenty had returned to Finland.
FSIS also said that the sharp increase in the number of refugees arriving in Finland had fostered an anti-immigrant atmosphere in which the threat of violent hate crime had also increased.
The past few months saw many anti-immigrant demonstrations throughout Finland since late summer, and on Saturday a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a building housing a center for underage asylum seekers.
“Finnish extremist organizations have been activated to oppose immigration, and this is the most visible and concrete security threat,” Interior Minister Petteri Orpo told YLE.
Channel NewsAsia notes that Finland expects 30,000-35,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year, compared with 3,600 in 2014.