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51 people died in the attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand in March. Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu
Klas Friberg, the head of Säpo, said that recent far-right terror attackers had all seen themselves, like Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 massacre on the Norwegian island of Utøya, as autonomous cells in a group struggle against Islam or multiculturalism.
“There is an increased risk of attacks from militants on the far right, probably acting alone, who we today are perhaps unaware of because they are not organized in any way,” he told Sweden's TT newswire. “But they're out there in the virtual world where they find inspiration.”
Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old behind the attack on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, claimed to have been in contact with Breivik, and also expressed solidarity with Anton Lundin Pettersson, who attacked a school in Trollhättan, Sweden, in 2015.
Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old behind the supermarket shooting in El Paso, claimed inspiration from Tarrant. And Philip Manshaus, the 21-year-old behind last month's attack on a mosque in Oslo, claimed to have been inspired by Crusius.
“This is what we have seen historically when it comes to these kind of violent ideologies: that they can be a source of inspiration for others to commit this kind of crime,” Friberg explained.
Klas Friberg was appointed head of the Säpo security police on February 28, 2018. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
He said that Säpo's monitoring showed that violent far-right ideologies were spreading outside the old white power movement, and reaching a wider range of people.
“We have a wave right now where we see a growth of the ideas and propaganda around the violent far-right ideology and we fear that more individuals are going to take this on board,” he said.
The challenge for Säpo was to identify these people before they strike, he said.
“They might never have been sentenced for a crime, and because they're not organized within the white power movement, they can slip beneath our radar.”
“We can say that there is a long list of forums, that violent propaganda is increasing within these forums, and that there are many people looking at and following these forums. It's a risk.”
Friberg said that Säpo could follow far-right extremist forums, and hope for tip-offs from the friends, families and colleagues of those being radicalized.
He said it was important that society and politicians also worked together to fight increasing polarisation.