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Sweden has a problem: ISIS returnees working with children and youth. Here is what a report says

Over 40% of those who came back to the Nordic nation from the dreaded terror organisation have taken positions that involve children, youth and the vulnerable such as social workers, teachers, and childminders.

According to a Swedish report, the country is under threat from the people who went to be part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State and have assimilated with the society upon their return. More importantly, they are now working with the children which has posed a perilous situation in front of the authorities.

The shocking revelation came to light when terrorist Abdesalem Lassoued who considered himself a soldier for the terrorist group left Brussels in quest of Swedes. He shot and killed two Swedish football fans on 16 October night and wounded a third. Following the heinous act of violence in Brussels, he proclaimed himself an Islamic State mujahedin (holy warrior). Now, he might disclose the whereabouts of the Swedish IS returnees.

Over 40% of those who came back to the Nordic nation from the dreaded terror organisation have taken positions that involve children, youth and the vulnerable such as social workers, teachers, and childminders. “There are always jobs to be found in the preschool,” asserted the spouse of an IS terrorist who rose through the ranks before he died. She went on to work as a nanny upon her return.

A mother of five, Camilla Olofsson left Sweden to join the terror outfit in Syria due to her allegiance to the same religion where she married off her two young daughters. However, two years later she moved back to Sweden and supported herself as a personal assistant. She was also enrolled in nursing school and worked for a private assistance firm when she was eventually caught and charged with crimes she carried out in the Middle East country.

Camilla Olofsson (Source: AP/TT)

She is now serving a six-year and ten-month jail sentence for many counts of human trafficking as well as aiding and abetting severe rape, notwithstanding her denial. The victim was a young girl who was forced into marriage with an adult IS male and endured 100 counts of sexual assault. Notably, she isn’t the only one responsible for such gruesome actions.

In accordance with the newspaper’s investigation, among 83 verified IS returnees, 21 of them found jobs assisting kids, young people and those who are disadvantaged which means more than one in four of them have careers in these professions. It further located 24 of them who have secured employment with governmental organisations. However, the Security Police have cautioned time and again about the prospect that those who have returned after fighting for IS could radicalise and recruit others in Sweden.

Nanny and Teacher

These individuals are educators, nannies, social workers and youth leaders. After leaving life with IS and other radical Islamist groups, returnees have been assigned to roles where they are in charge of children and young people in a number of places. A youth from Gothenburg who travelled to IS territories in the fall of 2014 was hired by the municipality to oversee youngsters only a few months after coming back to Sweden.

For many years, a middle-aged woman has been employed by her hometown municipality as a nanny and teacher. She and her daughter migrated to IS in Syria during the summer of 2015. She then promptly went back to work as a childcare provider after coming home and has several years of experience working in preschools and schools.

A Stockholmer who journeyed to Syria in 2014 was explicitly invited to fight when he joined the terrorist group, per IS’s own recruitment documents. He is stated to have previously engaged in combat and been a member of the Islamist terrorist group Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar in the same document.

Several Swedish members of the Islamist terrorist group Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA) abducted and cut the throats of two men in an industrial area outside Aleppo. (Source: Expressen)

Later that year, he returned and based on his own resume he served as a housing supporter at a Homes for Care or Residence (HVB home) for unaccompanied refugee children in addition to getting hired by a home care company. He alleged, “This is something that I deeply regret.” He studied sociology and is currently employed in a Stockholm suburb as a social secretary.

He argued he was only there for a few weeks and had to sign recruitment documents. He maintained that he did not want to discuss his experience in Syria. He once acknowledged that he went to the country, but he later retracted his statement. “I just want to focus on my life. It has gone well for me,” added before ending the call.

Moreover, he could soon have a new colleague in the form of a woman who spent six years with IS in Syria. She was married to two Swedish IS terrorists and is now seeking a sociological degree, based on the media house’s probe. Afterwards, she procured a job in one of Stockholm’s neighbourhoods as a supervisor for youth who work during vacations.

(Source: AP/TT, Police)

Social Secretary

A man from the Stockholm region who joined IS after going into their territory in April 2014 operated at a home care agency and an accommodation for unaccompanied refugees after returning home. Nowadays, he is a social worker.

Care Assistance

A woman from West Sweden who ventured to Syria and lost her husband in warfare there held an occupation providing care assistance to the elderly before, during, and after the period she spent among the terror group.

Substitute Teacher

A 41-year-old Gothenburger visited Syria in August 2013 and attempted again in 2022 but was apprehended at Landvetter. Three months following his sentencing he taught as a stand-in after-school teacher. His resume informed that he has experience functioning for an aid company as a personal assistant.

Educator

A 45-year-old resident of Gothenburg went down to Syria and intended to fight for IS in 2013 as well as in 2022 but he was captured at Landvetter. He worked as a student assistant and substitute teacher for a number of years prior to the arrest. He served a sentence and then pursued education to become a vocational guidance counsellor.

Youth Manager

A man from West Sweden who travelled to Syria in October 2014 obtained a position as a youth supervisor in his native town shortly after coming home.

Home Service

A woman from West Sweden joined IS in the summer of 2015 and came back the following year. She has been employed by his hometown government providing in-home care for a while.

Assistant

A man from southern Sweden journeyed to Syria in February 2015 and was photographed while wielding an automatic weapon. He has since held a number of part-time positions, including one at his hometown municipality’s labour market administration.

Coach

An inhabitant of southern Sweden enlisted in IS in Syria in the autumn of 2015. He began working as a coach at a municipal HVB home in February 2016 after returning where he was in charge of the boys and girls who were stranded refugees. Later on, he received compensation for working as a personal assistant.

Those who enter conflict zones with the purpose of carrying out acts of terror are pursued by the security police. Security Police press secretary Fredrik Hultgren-Friberg believes that the IS returnees are not viewed as a cohesive group. According to him one of the police’s primary responsibilities when it comes to violent extremism is to essentially limit the space and slow down the movement’s long-term expansion through radicalisation, recruitment and propaganda.

It is imperative that anyone who could constitute a security risk abstains from employment or participation in activities that could provide a platform for radicalisation or recruitment. “If it is the case that an individual based on a violent extremist ideology travels to a conflict area to, for example, fight for the caliphate or work for the caliphate, then, of course, it’s a criterion for the Security Police to follow up on that person.”

Fredrik Hultgren-Friberg (Source: Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency, Security Police)

According to the security forces, some of the individuals who went to Syria and the Islamic State may have strengthened their extremist theological and ideological roots there in addition to developing the potential to perpetrate crimes. They have also observed that some returnees rose to prominence in the violent Islamist milieus that exist domestically after their return.

Undoubtedly, one of the criteria for the Security Police to look into someone is whether they travel to a conflict area based on a violent extremist ideology with the intention of fighting or working for the caliphate. Numerous returnees whom the newspaper has spoken with also talk about ongoing courtships and discussions with the Security Police.

(Source:TT Nyhetsbyran, Illustration: Helena Kieffer)

Nanny

A West Swedish woman who was employed by her hometown municipality for many years as a nanny migrated to IS in Syria during the summer of 2015. She went back to work as a childcare provider after her return and has several years of experience working in preschools and schools.

Keeper

A man from West Sweden who travelled to Syria in October 2014 was hired by his hometown administration to work as a caregiver for the impaired after some years.

Preschool Teacher

In the summer of 2014, a woman from Central Sweden headed to be with her husband in IS and secured employment as a preschool teacher not long after returning.

Nanny

A man who went to Syria in 2014 found work as a nanny not long after arriving back. He was employed in the healthcare industry for many years and reported to have been a rescue worker in an interview.

School Employee

A West Swedish woman who moved to Syria in September 2013 together with her combative spouse and their child returned the next year after which she spent two years working at a Gothenburg elementary school.

Construction Worker

A West Swedish guy who went to Syria in 2013 summer came back to acquire a job as a construction worker at an administration in his hometown municipality.

Student Assistant

A Swedish woman who went to join IS in February of 2015 served as a nanny, a care assistant and now a student assistant since coming home. Another Stockholm-based woman who disappeared to Syria in the autumn of 2014. She gained employment as a student assistant at local schools after moving back home.

Contact Person For Children

A man from West Sweden who flew to IS territory in 2013 worked as a child contact person in family care and a primary school soon after his return. 

Youth Manager

A lady from the Stockholm region went to Syria in May 2014 in the company of a renowned IS recruiter who was killed in action. Prior to her return to Sweden in 2021, she wed another IS terrorist and is now pursuing a degree in sociology and has worked monitoring adolescents.

Teacher

A Central Sweden man who vanished to become a member of IS in the autumn of 2013 was employed as a teacher, a position he still holds to this day, right after his return. He also worked for an organisation which offers homework assistance.

Support Assistant

A woman from West Sweden visited the IS region in 2014 and came back the following year. She was hired as a camp leader for kids and later as a staff member at a local drug rehab centre, soon after coming back. She is at present functioning as a disability support assistant.

Economist

Central Sweden man who went to Syria in 2013 autumn is currently employed as an economist to help with money-related subjects in his hometown municipality.

Recreation Employee

A female from the Stockholm region went to be a part of IS in December 2014. She spent a number of years working in an elementary school after-school program upon her return.

One individual who worked in healthcare in one of the nation’s urban areas claimed that he was in communication with the Security Police as recently as a few weeks ago. He went to Syria in the beginning of 2014. He described himself as a paramedic and rescue worker and believed that his time in Syria was the reason behind the troubles in his personal and professional life that he encountered after coming home.

His conviction is that, among other reasons, the managers did not renew his half-year temporary job as a nanny the year following his return to Sweden because they knew about his past. He complained, “My rights are extremely limited. And when you question why, the answer is always that you are under investigation. The problem is that the investigation will never end. To me, it feels like they want you to crack one day and for something to happen.”

Two Terror Accused Brothers

The media house was able to report earlier this year on how an IS recruit who had been found guilty of terror was hired as a temporary leisure teacher in Gothenburg in the fall of 2022, three months after serving an eight-month prison sentence for breaking the travel law. In February 2022, he and his elder brother were taken into custody at Landvetter Airport. The Security Police unveiled that they were en route to Syria or Iraq with the intention of joining IS.

A student assistant and a substitute teacher both of whom were deemed guilty of terrorism also took a picture at Landvetter Airport with the conviction of travelling to the terror outfit.

The culprit brothers. (Source: The Police)

He was still listed as an active substitute teaching instructor at the time of the disclosure in September of this year, however, was sacked after the alarming development. The head of the Gothenburg personnel section, Larisa Muslijovic, remarked at the time, “We can’t do these background checks. we don’t Google people.” The Security Police already knew of both brothers and based on intelligence reports, the pair were expected to have received religious and military training in Syria as early as 2013.

When the brothers returned home that time, the younger worked as a personal assistant for a number of years while the older brother, who the Security Police maintained had fought in Syria worked for a number of years at a primary school in an unstable region of Gothenburg as a substitute teacher and student assistant.

It was not until several months after the arrest at Landvetter when the elder brother was held on suspicion of terrorism-related offences which led to the termination of his professional duty. 

In response to the newspaper’s article earlier this year, the terror-convicted younger brother alleged, “I think that you can be as suitable or unsuitable as you want, both convicted and not convicted,” and underlined the significance of giving everyone a second chance.

Mirsad Bektasevic

When Mirsad Bektasevic was just 19 years old, he was adjudged responsible for planning to commit terrorist acts. He proceeded to Syria to fight for a violent Islamist group after completing his term in 2014. After returning, he worked as a “miscellaneous worker” for a year. He is another prominent Syrian returnee who was charged with terrorism.

Mirsad Bektasevic (Source: AP/TT)

The next year, once he came back he was hired as a “miscellaneous worker” for a brief period of time by Kungalv, his hometown municipality. However, his stay in Sweden was brief. He was nabbed in January 2016 once again. 

At the time, he was in Greece en route to Syria once more when he was proven culpable of being a member of a terrorist organisation and sentenced to prison, even though he denied it. The media house conducted an inquiry on him who previously acknowledged going to Syria and acting as the “police chief” in charge of setting up roadblocks outside of Aleppo, among additional duties.

Mirsad Bektasevic (Source: Expressen)

Many of the people the newspaper had a conversation with also took extreme measures to disassociate themselves from the events in Syria. They contended that it was cult-like conduct, they were naive and “brainwashed” at the time. “People can get indoctrinated and join cults of many kinds and mistakes can happen in life. If you decide to quit, you need to still be allowed to have the opportunity to live a regular life and be given another chance,” voiced the widow of a high-ranking IS fighter.

She alleged, “Right now, I’m as far away from that life as it gets. I live a very different life.” She returned to Sweden and went on to work as a preschool teacher. When her spouse was neutralised, the Pentagon classified him as a trusted cadre serving in a foreign IS fighter brigade.

Aman who now has his own logistics company and was hired by the municipality soon after returning home would prefer to forget his time spent in Syria. Along with a man who is currently believed to be imprisoned by Kurdish forces, he went to Syria and underwent combat training before deciding to come back after a brief stay with IS.

He is of the opinion that it is vital to be able to live a normal life at some point, but he also believes that it is not unreasonable for individuals who, like him, sympathised with and supported a movement like IS to face consequences. “I can’t just sit here and moan about what this has done to me. However, I hope I have now paid my dues to society.”

He boasted of comprehending Sapo’s (Swedish Security Service) actions as well. “If I was sitting at Sapo or wherever it may be, then they had a distrust of me, that goes without saying. I don’t see that as so freaking strange. That would be as naive as I was when I went down. Everything has a consequence. I’m just glad I didn’t do anything down there that I couldn’t live with today.”

Conclusion

Jihad has posed an existential threat to the entire world. India has been its victim for decades and now the jihadi uprising in Europe as evident from recent violence in France and its other parts as well as massive rallies in support of Hamas amidst the IsraelHamas conflict has further exposed the problem. Now, the startling discovery of terrorists amongst civilians particularly kids has only served as a reminder of the flaws of the West’s broken security system and its susceptibility to the murderous jihadist doctrine.

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