The biggest threat of a terrorist attack in Finland at the moment is individuals or small groups who support either the far right or the fundamentalist ideology of Islam. 2020 Yearbook Report (external link), published by the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service Supo on Tuesday.
The threat has remained on a four-point scale (elevated) at the same level as last year, but the agency added that the activities of far-right groups in particular are becoming increasingly worrying.
Finland has remained at level 2 of the terrorist threat since the terrorist attack in Turku in August 2017.
The threat of extreme rights is growing
Supo announced earlier in October last year that the danger posed by extreme right-wing extremism has increased in Finland, and it has continued to identify far-right actors with the ability and motivation to carry out a terrorist attack.
The number of these groups increased in the mid-2010s, but their growth has leveled off in recent years.
"The anti-terrorism goals of the far right identified by Supo are typically related to the far-right international online environment," Supo director Antti Pelttari wrote in a press release, adding that there has also been evidence of concrete preparations for the attack.
Supo’s head of analysis spoke at a press conference on Tuesday morning Pekka Hiltunen explained that an example of this would be the acquisition of equipment suitable for the attack.
Police suspected an anti-immigration far-right group called the Nationalist Alliance (Alliance of Nationalists in preparation for a violent crime last year, but the authorities decided not to pursue the case in the absence of sufficient evidence.
The plans were revealed during a police investigation into the assassination attempt of a Finnish party aide Pekka Kataja last year, which also suspected far-right involvement.
Supo further pointed out that the theory of ‘great substitution’, which claims that the white European population is demographically and culturally replaced by non-European people through mass migration, has increasingly been used by the far right.
This term has also been used in Finland by many MPs, including the Finnish Party Jussi Halla-aho and the vice-chairman of the party Riikka Purra.
Purra justified the use of the term in relation to demographic changes during the year interview with Image magazine (external link in Finnish) in January.
Supo Director Pelttari did not want to comment on the use of the term by politicians at Tuesday morning’s press conference.
Radical Islamist terrorism ‘remains a threat’
Radical Islamists pose the most significant terrorist threat worldwide, Supo said. The weakened terrorist organization ISIL in the Middle East continues to actively produce propaganda in many languages and agilely take advantage of various online platforms from Tiktok to the Jodel chat service.
The threat of Islamist terrorism to Finland is mainly people who may be affected or radicalized by such propaganda, the agency added.
"Several people returned to Finland from the Syrian conflict zone in 2020. Most of these returnees are likely to continue to operate in radical Islamist networks, for example by recruiting supporters and spreading extremist ideology," the report found.
Supo added that while those returning from conflict zones are often disappointed in ideology, most are likely to continue to operate in radical Islamist networks, a constant threat to national security.
The report also emphasized the role of domestic radicalization and added that there are families in Finland where the third generation has been influenced by extremist ideology. In such families, children can grow up from an early age in a radicalized environment that is difficult to break away from, the report found.
Source: The Nordic Page