SUPO: Finland’s main terror threat still comes from lone wolf attacks

The new report from Supo outlines the main threats to Finnish security from terrorism, extremist groups, and cyber attacks.

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File picture of Antti Pelttari, Supo Director / Credit: Supo Year Book 2020

The Finnish Security and Intelligence Service Supo  published its new year book on Thursday, painting a picture of the threats facing Finland from domestic extremist movements, cyber espionage and terror attacks.

Supo says the threat of terrorism in Finland remains at level two – elevated – on a four-level scale, and that irrespective of ideology it’s lone wolf attacks that continue to pose the greatest terror threat to the nation.

Writing in the year book, Supo Director Antti Pelttari notes that his organisation got more powers during the last twelve months, which he says “allow Supo to operate in a new way online and also for the first time abroad”

“We are becoming less dependent on intelligence from our intrernational partners as our own expertise grows” he says.

Lone wolf attacks

The Security and Intelligence Service says there are currently around 390 individuals being watched by counter-terrorism officials in Finland – a number that has remained unchanged in recent years.

“Finland harbours significant terrorist support activities and international networks, with known resident and visiting individuals and groups possessing the motivation and ability to carry out terrorist attacks” says Supo.

“The threat of a religiously motivated terrorist attack on Finland comes primarily from lone operators or groups pursuing radical Islamist ideology and objectives.”

Supo says that regardless of religious ideology, these lone operators post the biggest terror threat to the country, and attacks could be carried out with equipment available at hand, or with firearms and explosives.

Radical groups continue their activities 

The latest Supo report says that Syria and Iraq remain core areas of radical Islamist terrorism, and that the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda and their affiliates continue to pose a threat to the west.

“The growth of radical Islamist networks in Finland is conforming to international trends” says Supo, noting that in Finland these networks are multi-ethnic and intergenerational, and often sealed with marriages.

“The groups and networks in Finland that promote terrist operations have contacts abroad in both Muslim-majority and Western countries” the report concludes.

When it comes to domestic threats, Supo says home grown extremist movements didn’t pose a threat to national security or public order during 2019.

“Criminality mainly took the form of individual acts of assault, menace and ethnic agitation by the extreme right and such offences as violent resistance to a public official and criminal damage on the extreme left.”

Despite a court ban on the Nordic Resistance Movement, Supo points out that a new group, Towards Freedom, essentially took their place.

“While no violent offences were committed in the names of either the [Nordic Resistance Movement] or the Towards Freedom movement last year, both groups are under a criminal investigation launched by the National Bureau of Investigation” the new report states.