- - Monday, March 23, 2015

Could there be a connection between the recent gang-related shooting in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the bomb arrest in Bosnia?

Back on March 13th Bosnian police arrested five men suspected of building a bomb for transport to an Scandinavian country to be used in a terrorist attack.

The first three suspects were arrested when they attempted to cross the Bosnian border with the bomb in the trunk of their car, and the later two were arrested at the same time in Sarajevo. Although four of the five are Bosnians, the other suspect is a Swedish citizen. Bosnian police and prosecutors claim that the bomb was intended for a terrorist attack, but Swedish police dismiss such claims, stating that the undertaking was solely related to criminal activity in southern Sweden.

Interestingly enough, there was a shooting incident in Gothenburg on March 19th. At least two people were killed and eight injured when two men armed with Kalashnikov-pattern assault rifles entered the Var Krog Och Bar at 10:30 PM and opened fire. The pub was in the immigrant neighborhood of Biskopsgaarden, infamous for its high rates of violent gang-affiliated crime and unemployment. An eyewitness on Twitter blamed the attack on “deadly ISIS terror” but Gothenburg law enforcement maintain that it was a gang assassination; at least one of the dead has ties to local gangs. Gothenburg police arrested three men Thursday night on suspicion of firearms offenses, but declined to confirm or deny whether or not the arrests were connected to the pub shooting.

Though Swedish law enforcement were quick to dismiss any claims of terrorism being the motivation behind these two events, could it be possible that there is an overlap between immigrant gangs in Scandinavia and radical Islamist groups? Events indicate that it is a distinct possibility. In the Islamic State document “Black Flags From Rome,” describes the use of small militant cells to defend Muslim communities from aggression as well as capable of carrying out attacks, and describes how gangs are a possible source of recruitment:

As this 3rd generation of immigrant Muslim youth got into their late teenage years, their parents were able to afford Satellite channels. As a result, this 3rd generation of Muslim youth watched Entertainment channels with music which would promote gang culture, so they too started to get involved in ghetto gangs. Their parents had always wanted them to get a good job to make money for the family, and selling drugs was a quick way to make money. Having access to gangs and drug dealers would also mean having access to the dark underground of the ghettos, where there were guns and illegal weapons gang members could get hold of …

Turning to Islam – In Prison:

A Small portion of this 3rd generation Muslims would be imprisoned for drugs possession or carrying weapons in the streets. Here in prison, they would meet other fellow Muslim prisoners who had stayed in the prisons for much longer, and who had by now become practising Muslims. Muslims having experienced the extravagant life, who had felt lost with the gangster culture many Muslim youth had been drawn into. They felt alienated from drugs and gang culture because this was against their religion, and the rest of society which looked down on them and was predominantly white, and who also had different values to them. This identity crisis caused them to look into their religion. A growing minority within their minority (ethnic group) would find refuge in their religion, Islam. Unlike their parents version of Islam, which was more cultural and subservient, this new generation, would start studying the life of Allah (God’s) Messenger, Muhammad (peace be on him) and comparing it to their situation in Europe.

Could the attack have been a mere gang shooting, or could it have been something more? Perhaps a leadership dispute in a gang over allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or upset radicals angry about a pub serving alcohol and showing a soccer game. Certainly Islamic State has been busy in Europe attempting to radicalize and recruit young Muslims living there. Just last month, it was discovered that members of an assimilation guide service contracted by the Swedish government were in reality recruiters for Islamic State, contacting young Muslim men in Sweden and directing them to join Islamic State in Syria.

These recent events in Sweden could very well be connected with an attempt to build a greater support base in Sweden for Islamic State operations.

Sean MacCormac is a research analyst at the Center for Security Policy.

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