A coordinated operation in three Swedish cities, led to the arrest of five terrorism suspects, police said Tuesday. The suspects are believed to have international links to Islamist extremism, according to the Swedish Security Service.
Agency counterterrorism chief Susanna Trehorning said the case was “one of several” that they were working on “after the protests that were directed at Sweden in connection with the highly publicized burning of the Quran in January,” the agency said in a statement.
She said the suspects were linked to international “Islamic extremism,” but that no concrete attack had been imminent.
“The Security Service often needs to act early in order to avert a threat. We can’t wait until a crime has been committed before we act,” it said in a statement.
Earlier this year, far-right Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan sparked international outrage, particularly in the Muslim world, when he publicly lit a copy of the Muslim holy book on fire in Stockholm. The incident was part of an event organized by pro-Russian journalist Chang Frick, and one of several such demonstrations Paludan has taken part in.
Protests in front of Swedish embassies for allowing the demonstration were called in several countries, including Iran and Bangladesh.
The incident also caused diplomatic headaches for Sweden’s bid to join the NATO alliance, a process already made difficult by disagreements with Ankara. Turkey paused NATO negotiations with Sweden as a result of the incident, which police had authorized ahead of time. The incident had taken place near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Also on Tuesday, a Swedish court overturned the police decision to ban two planned Quran-burning protests. According to the court, security risk concerns were not enough to justify a ban on the demonstrations.
Officers had argued that such events made Sweden “a higher priority target for attacks.”
The “police authority did not have sufficient support for its decisions,” Judge Eva-Lotta Hedin said in a statement.