Hundreds of Islamist militants who have left Sweden to fight in Syria and Iraq have received welfare payments from the Swedish government and continue to be on their payroll.
According to a new report released by the National Defence University on behalf of the Financial Supervisory Authority revealed that approximately 300 Islamists have claimed benefits by proxy, leading the government to assume that they remain in Sweden although they are, in fact, fighting for jihadist groups in Syria or Iraq.
Magnus Ranstorp, terrorist researcher and one of the reports’ authors, said “It was not surprising, we have seen the same pattern in other countries. Most surprising was that almost all had it in some form. But it is the monitoring that needs to work better. The problem is that there is too little follow-up.”
The report noted that, between 2013 and 2016, about 300 militants left Sweden for the Middle East and are believed to have fought for terrorist groups including the Islamic State.
The most common types of welfare benefits received by the militants include housing allowances, child support, student loans, maintenance and parental benefits. Funds are often received by a third party who then sends the money to the fighters in other countries.
“It’s not big money,” Ranstorp said. “They do not get rich on it, but it can go a long way in a conflict zone.”
Police note that student loans are the most worrisome issue since the militants can defraud the system by claiming to be headed overseas to study and then receiving large lump-sum loans from the Swedish government.
Anna Ekström, Swedish minister for upper secondary school and adult education and training said the problem was “totally unacceptable. No state funds will be used for something that is in the vicinity of terrorism. We must take hold of this immediately. We are preparing now to go to the parliament and ensure that the government gets the opportunity to ensure that we do not pay out such large sums at once.”
In late 2016, it was found that Muslim convert Michael Skråmo was paid £4,300 by the Swedish government since leaving for the Middle East in 2014.
It was revealed in 2015 that Gothenburg, Sweden, sent more Islamist militants to the Middle East per capita than any other city in Europe.
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