Synagogues across Sweden were closed down as a precautionary measure after Stockholm raised the country’s terror threat assessment level on Wednesday, the World Jewish Congress has announced.
Swedish authorities have said that they are hunting a suspect and had “concrete information” of a possible attack only days after ISIS terrorists killed more than a hundred people across Paris in a series of coordinated attacks. The biggest scene of carnage during the attack, the Bataclan Club, was, until recently, Jewish owned and the scene of many Israeli and community-related gatherings.
Security police (SAPO) chief Anders Thornberg said one arrest had been made “in absentia” for terrorism crimes for an unnamed suspect. He said there were no known links at present with the Paris attacks but the threat from Islamic State militants formed the backdrop to the raised risk level.
The threat level was raised one notch to four, on a scale of five, meaning that there is a high probability that “persons have the intent and ability to carry out an attack.”
The WJC quoted Lena Posner-Körösi, the chairwoman of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, as stating that synagogue security would be reassessed on a daily basis.
She told Reuters that evening activities such as sports training for youths were canceled in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo after discussions with police.
Israel on Monday condemned the comments by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that seemed to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the ISIS-backed terrorist attacks in Paris, as “shockingly hostile.”
After the Paris attacks, Wallstrom was asked the following question on Swedish television.
“How worried are you about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who are fighting for ISIS?” According to the translation provided by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Wallstrom answered: “Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world, because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”
According to a Jerusalem Post poll published on Tuesday, Israelis see Sweden as the least supportive European country.
Some 39 percent of the 506 Israelis who were polled on October 26 pointed to Sweden when asked which European country least supports Israel, followed by France at 22%.
Following last week’s attack in Paris, local security watchdog SPCJ (Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive) issued guidelines for Jewish communities, recommending that French Jews “break their routines” so as not to make easy targets and that they carry small bags in order to decrease the time necessary for security checks outside institutions under police protection.
“The bloody attacks last night in France create a very great concern,” the group said, adding that security around Jewish institutions is being increased by police and military authorities.
Following reports that one of the attackers in last Friday’s attack entered Europe together with migrants fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria, protesters in Poland on Wednesday ended an anti-immigration rally with the burning of an effigy of a hasidic Jew.