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12 Apr, 2017 15:35

Sweden wants more manpower to find 10K rejected refugees in hiding after one commits terror attack

Sweden wants more manpower to find 10K rejected refugees in hiding after one commits terror attack

The force of 200 officers tasked with tracking down the thousands of migrants that have gone into hiding in Sweden needs to be substantially boosted, the country’s border police chief said after a rejected refugee carried out a terrorist attack in Stockholm.

“We certainly need more resources. We need a few hundred employees, maybe more,” Patrik Engstrom, head of Sweden’s national border police, told Dagens Nyheter newspaper, noting that “above all” the country needs more police officers to “take part in immigration control [operations]” 

Approximately 1,200 Swedish police officers are currently involved in border control at their national operative department (NOA) and seven police regions, but the majority is assigned to operations securing the country’s external borders, such as passport control, he said.

Engstrom stressed that only around 200 police officers are currently assigned to searching for illegal migrants already in Sweden. Meanwhile, the number of rejected asylum seekers illegally hiding in Sweden after having their applications rejected has reached 10,000, Dagens Nyheter reports.

Police should also be able to do their jobs searching or checking illegal migrants without “fear that someone will yell ‘R.I.P. to them [police],” the border police chief added. According to Engstrom, a modern computer system that controls the influx of asylum seekers should be installed in police stations.

Sweden has been on high alert since last Friday, when a truck ploughed through a crowd of people before crashing into a department store and catching fire in Drottninggatan, one of Stockholm’s main pedestrian areas.

The terrorist attack left at least four people dead, including an 11-year-old girl, and over a dozen injured. The main suspect, who was allegedly driving the truck, managed to flee the scene, but was later arrested.

Swedish media have reported that the suspected perpetrator is a 39-year-old from Uzbekistan named Rakhmat Akilov.

Sweden’s Expressen newspaper reported that the attacker told investigators that he was “pleased with what he had done” and had “accomplished what he set out to do.” 

It was later revealed that Akilov’s asylum application was rejected in summer of 2016 and he had been illegally hiding in Sweden ever since. The authorities had been seeking to find and deport him since February of 2017.

On Wednesday, the Swedish government asked Supreme Court Judge Stefan Johansson if it would be legally possible to introduce a new law that would make taking part in a terrorist group a criminal offense. 

“Financing a terrorist organization is already prohibited, and that has been seen as compatible with freedom of association. Freedom of association has never been aimed at making it possible to be active in a terrorist organization,” Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said at a press conference.

He added that, currently, “it’s the case that you have to be tied to a specific terror offence.”

“What we are now saying is that if you are active in the organization which engages in terror offences, it should be possible to prosecute your for that,” he added.