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The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) has warned that the threat of terrorism has increased in Finland since the summer of 2014. Supo estimates in its latest threat assessment that the threat of an organised terrorist attack remains low but that the threat of an isolated act of violence has continued to grow.

“Today's situation is characterised by contemporary phenomena such as the unexpected rise in asylum seeker numbers. The threat has risen and diversified from the levels of summer 2014,” Antti Pelttari, the director general at Supo, said on Tuesday.

The threat assessment level has according to Pelttari been raised from “very low” to “low”.

“I'm not saying people should be concerned when walking outside, but the threat has indeed grown,” he added.

Supo pointed out that the heightened threat is associated with both lone-wolf terrorists and small terrorist organisations. The attackers, it highlighted, may act fully on their own.

Such people and organisations do not pose a threat to the social order despite the raised threat level, stressed Pelttari. “The reason is that violent networks have been formed also in Finland. Approximately 300 people are suspected of involvement in such activities,” he said.

He added that such people also include asylum seekers who are known to have participated in fighting and are affiliated with terrorist organisations.

The threat level, however, was raised largely because terrorist factions and organisations with the ability to commit offences have been formed in Finland. In addition, organisations that carry out attacks against asylum seekers have been established.

Pelttari reminded that Finns may be targeted in terrorist attacks abroad.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) emphasised that the raised threat level must be approached with an appropriate degree of seriousness. “That much is clear, but Finns can still have faith in the security situation in our country,” he told journalists at the Parliament House on Tuesday.

He pointed out similarly to Pelttari that the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland has grown substantially from previous levels. “It's clear that the asylum seekers include all kinds of people.”

He believes the risk assessment is partly based on the fact that the asylum seekers include several people from conflict-ridden areas. “I'm not aware of anything alarming,” he assured.

Supo issued on Tuesday a statement on the impact of asylum seekers on national security. The threat of violent crime has risen according to Supo due to the sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers and the subsequently growing anti-immigration sentiment – as the recent attacks and campaigns against asylum seekers indicate.

It identified the Finnish Resistance Movement as one such organisation.

The influx of asylum seekers has also increased interest in Islamic extremism in Finland, Supo estimated.

Tuomo Pietiläinen, Martta Nieminen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT

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