Stockholm (AFP) – After the Stockholm truck attack that killed four people and injured 15 others, Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson has told AFP he is seeking to toughen the nation’s terrorism laws.
The suspected truck driver who mowed down shoppers in the attack, named in court documents as 39-year-old Uzbek national Rakhmat Akilov, had expressed an interest in jihadist organisations, according to police.
He had gone underground after his application for Swedish residency was rejected last year.
Q: How do you want to strengthen Sweden’s terrorism laws?
Morgan Johansson: “We have criminalised departures abroad linked to terrorism and widened the scope of (punishing) the financing of terrorism. There is a possibility to extend this further.
“It could mean being active in an organisation that dedicates itself to terrorism even if it’s not connected to a certain crime. In doing so we could target a wider circle and intervene earlier against potentially dangerous individuals.
“It might include a prison sentence… We’re looking at the legislation that exists in Norway which has a similar constitution as Sweden.”
Q: How can you stop people from going underground?
“We want to give the police the opportunity, without concrete suspicion of a crime, to go into workplaces to make sure that people who work there are in Sweden (legally).
“Today there must be suspicion of a crime… With the new rules, the police should be able to go into workplaces and make a risk assessment on whether people work there illegally.”
Q: How many people in Sweden have received a deportation order and then gone underground?
“It’s very difficult to know the exact number but in recent years the figures have been around 10,000 people per year who have received a deportation order but later not left Sweden, at least not to the Swedish Migration Board’s knowledge.
“Some have left the country without us knowing. Last year, the number of forced and voluntary expulsions increased as nearly 19,000 people left the country.”
Q: Why do you think Sweden was targeted?
“That’s difficult to say… The perpetrator can answer what motives he had.
“It’s difficult to speculate before we know the circumstances. If it was a lone wolf then it was his individual reason that determined it.
“If it was an organisation that stood behind it then this question becomes more relevant.”