Hundreds of Swedish residents who went to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have now returned to Europe and the Swedish government has given several of them “protected identities” to keep locals from finding out who they are.
The vast majority of the returning jihadist fighters keep a very low profile once they get back to Sweden as many have committed terrorist offences while in the Middle East. 27-year-old Walad Ali Yousef is one returnee that the government has given a special status protecting his identity, normally given to people under serious threat Expressen reports.
Mr Yousef, originally from the heavily migrant-populated city of Malmo, spoke to the newspaper complaining he had difficulty finding a job. “I am looking for many jobs but can not get one because my pictures are out there,” he said.
Yousef joined the Islamic State in 2014, travelling to the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria. Formerly a small time criminal, Yousef sent pictures of himself in Syria posing with Kalashnikov rifles to encourage his friends in Sweden to join the terror group.
39-year-old Bherlin Dequilla Gildo, also from Malmo, is now back in Sweden living under an entirely new identity. In 2012 he posted images of himself posing with dead bodies, who he claimed were “Assad’s dogs” and participated directly in killings of Syrian regime soldiers.
It is assumed that the remaining 100 or so Swedes still in the Middle East fighting for the Islamic state are the most radical. Some fear that as Kurdish troops push further into Raqqa, the Swedes will attempt to return home.
Terror expert Magnus Ranstorp said, “the really dangerous ones have not come back yet,” and added, “The vast majority may not do anything, but they are still a danger to the authorities and it must be managed. It is important for the police to be able to prioritise this area so that they do not become dangerous for society.”
While several of those returning are free, many others like Sultan Al-Amin, 31, and Hassan Al-Mandlawi, 33, have been sentenced to life in prison for their crimes committed in the city of Aleppo.
Swedish authorities have been heavily criticised for welcoming Islamic State fighters returning from the Middle East and claiming to be able to integrate them back into Swedish society.
Others have slammed the government for the fact that many fighters have been collecting state money even after they have left to go to the Middle East. One man, a former “Islamophobia expert” was able to collect thousands from the Swedish government while living in Raqqa.