Terror Charges for Three Finnish Citizens

Authorities say the men from southern Finland planned to finance their Syria exploits with the proceeds from financial crimes.

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File picture / Credit: @suomen_poliisi Instagram

Finnish authorities have charged three citizens with the preparing a terror crime; training to commit terror offenses; and one for terrorism recruiting.

Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen brought the charges in connection with the ongoing Syria conflict. The alleged offenses happened between the end of 2012 and the summer of 2013.

The defendants are three men from southern Finland, aged between 30 and 40, says District Prosecutor Juha-Mikko Hämäläinen.

The men have denied committing any crimes.

Syria Connection

The police had earlier reported that the suspects were radicalised in Finland, and decided to leave to fight in Syria in June 2013.

The three men left Finland via Eastern Europe for Syria, however one of them came back to Finland without ever having made it across the Syrian border.

The suspected criminal activity took place in Finland, but District Prosecutor Hämäläinen did not comment on exactly what the preparatory, educational or recruitment activities were.

“The prosecution will give more details at trial about what was done, and what stage the preparations were at” says Hämäläinen.

According to Hämäläinen, the prosecution and the defense have very different views on events.

In the preliminary investigation, the men were suspected of participating in the armed activities of Isis or al-Nusra.

According to Hämäläinen, however, no crime was actually committed in Syria. He does not comment on the activities of the terrorist groups, but says the men returned to Finland at some point later, of their own accord.

Police Action

The police tracked down the suspects in the course of an investigation, and they were detained at their homes on 7th October 2014, and held in custody the same month.

Two of the men were released at the end of 2014, and the other was released in January 2015.

According to prosecutor Hämäläinen, the men are currently in Finland.

The preliminary court proceedings will take place at the end of October or in early November.

Prosecutor: Meetings in Finland and Economic Crimes

For one of the suspects, the prosecutor found no evidence that he was preparing to commit a terror act. However, it is clear from the decision to prosecute that the group organised meetings in Finland where they were planning the Syria trip.

It is thought the group were preparing to go to Syria, and take part in attacks on the Syrian government from within the ranks of one of the various terrorist groups inside Syria.

One of the men did not make it to Syria, and had not bought any equipment for the trip. However, authorities believe he established a company for the purpose of financing the Syria journey, and applied for VAT refunds on expenses.

The whole venture is said to have been financed by economic crimes, and those offenses are treated as a separate case, apart from the terror charges.