Supo: Growing threat from right-wing terrorism in Finland

Agencies are tracking almost 400 people who have links to terrorism - including radical Islam and a growing threat from right-wing extremists.

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

The security and intelligence service Supo says there’s a growing threat of terrorism from extreme right-wing groups in Finland.

In a new report published Thursday, SUPO says individuals or small groups supporting far-right ideology – or radical Islamism – “pose the greatest terrorist threat in Finland.”

Supo notes that in the past 18 months there’s been an increase of far-right terrorism in the West with attacks aimed at maximising casualties, reinforced by far-right online groups and social media messaging.

“Supporters and sympathisers of far-right terrorist activity have also been identified in Finland. At the same time, the threat posed by radical Islamist terrorist operators has by no means dispelled” says Supo Director Antti Pelttari.

Finland’s security and intelligence services are monitoring the activities of about 390 people they think might be motivated by terrorist propaganda – both on the far right and radical Islam.

Supo says that terrorist support operations in Finland include financing and spreading propaganda, and the counterterrorism targets have “significant links to foreign terrorist operators and networks.”

Cyber security composite picture / Credit: Pixabay

Coronavirus hit foreign spy networks in Finland

An intriguing angle to the new Supo report details the effect the coronavirus pandemic had on the ability of foreign spies to work in Finland.

Supo says that restrictions put in place in the early stages of the pandemic in spring this year did hamper foreign spies from gathering ‘human intel’. However this was only temporary.

As more people moved to remote working, it created opportunities for foreign intelligence agencies – particularly Russia and China, says Supo – to engage in cyber espionage.

However they weren’t able to immediately exploit any security lapses thrown up by remote working, because their own spying operations were impacted by Covid-19 as well.

“It is highly likely that active cyber espionage will continue, as the pandemic is still hampering travel. New targets include the pharmaceutical industry and viral research” says Antti Pelttari.

Supo says that human intelligence gathering “returned to its previous levels” in Finland when coronavirus restrictions were eased over the summer, with “several dozen” foreign spies permanently stationed in the country.