The Finnish Security Intelligence Service held a press conference on Tuesday announcing its security threat assessment. The announcement was evaluated by international affairs researcher Teemu Sinkkonen on Yle’s morning show.
Senior researcher Teemu Sinkkonen from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs says he finds it «highly unlikely» that individuals would travel to Finland to practice terrorism.
Sinkkonen gave his evaluation on Yle’s morning politics show on Wednesday. He refers to Interior Minister Petteri Orpo’s statement on Tuesday that there are ISIS fighters among the asylum-seekers who have already entered Finland.
Sinkkonen backed up his view by saying that the extremist group has mostly operated in Syrian conflict zones and has not extended its destructive activities to other countries directly.
«The only thing that might have something to do with a terrorist threat is the recruitment custom whereby the group attempts to draw in more combatants,» he says. «It is very probable that people with this sort of background have abandoned such militant involvement and are genuinely seeking asylum.»
Sinkkonen pointed out that ISIS has undertaken internal purges, meaning that it has killed ex-militants from its ranks.
Combatants returning to Finland raise concerns
The Intelligence Service (Supo) raised Finland’s terrorist threat level from very low to low on Tuesday. Sinkkonen says he takes this to mean that Supo think the potential threat of terrorist activity from Finnish ISIS fighters returning to Finland may become realised.
Such combatants from Finland number at 70 people, of whom some have returned.
«We do not know all the reasons for their return. We don’t even know the ways in which all of these people were involved in the fighting in Syria or who they fought for,» Sinkkonen says. «In any case a very small portion of these few to have come back may continue their radicalism in Finland.»
Supo also estimated that asylum-seekers coming to Finland in large numbers will increase interest in extremist Islamism. Sinkkonen said on the TV show that he believes this has to do with ISIS recruiters approaching at-risk migrants and offering them a community that they may not otherwise find.
Increase in anti-migrant violence
The Supo assessment indicates that the threat of violent hate crimes has risen due to the large number of asylum-seekers and ensuing anti-immigrant sentiment.
«In plain terms this means that violent, racist crimes committed against asylum-seekers by Finns – throwing stones and firebombs and other nasty things – are becoming more common and will continue to become more frequent,» says Sinkkonen.
He says all kinds of violence are worrying regardless of the ideology behind it.
«But certainly the only violence of this sort is being propagated by the far right extremists. Throwing an explosive device into a building full of migrants is extremely serious. No other people or groups are behaving like this.»