Sweden | Gang warfare takes the Army to the streets
Defence Redefined
Published on 29/09/2023 at 14:36

In a televised message to the country, Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristerrson, announced that he had called on the country’s military to take to the streets and take over policing.

The reason for the dramatic announcement is the steep increase in crime related to organized crime. The latest incidents were the murder of two men shot dead in Stockholm, and the death of a 25-year-old woman in a bomb attack in Uppsala.

Kristerrson stated in his message that they will go after these gangs and defeat them, which caused a sensation as it was one of the rare times that the Swedish Prime Minister addressed the citizens.

He added that no other European country has been faced with a similar situation, adding that today Friday there will be a meeting between the Army Chiefs and the police to form the involvement of the military.

In the last month alone, 12 people have lost their lives in violence that has broken out between drug-trafficking gangs. At the same time, the government is criticized for wishing to take superficial measures which do not aim at the actual cause of the problem.

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The Foxtrot Network

According to Swedish media, the heart of the problem is the Foxtrot network: a criminal drug-trafficking organization, created by Rawa Majid, a Swedish-Iraqi of Kurdish origin. Many relatives of Majid are members of this network, alongside dozens of young people who are recruited from the marginal neighborhoods where mainly immigrants live.

Several murders have been attributed to the network’s activity and it is believed that Foxtrot has links to other criminal organizations in Europe. Majid himself served a prison sentence imposed by the Swedish authorities for his action. He was released from prison in 2018, but he did not stay in the country, as his cousin was murdered by a rival gang, and Swedish authorities gave him permission to move to Turkey despite being on probation.

There, Majid acquired Turkish citizenship through a “golden visa” program for investors. From there he kept running his criminal empire, this year prompting Sweden’s government to threaten Turkey with suspending financial aid to Ankara, if it did not extradite him, but Stockholm eventually withdrew the threat.

The police believe that the outbreak of violence is a result of the failure to integrate immigrants into Swedish society. For his part, the Swedish Prime Minister said that organized crime has skyrocketed in the past decade because of the naivety shown by his country.

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Swedish law is not formulated for gang warfare and child soldiers, the Swedish Prime Minister has said, heralding major changes to the legal framework. These include surveillance of suspects’ communications, body searches, tougher sentences for serial killers, up to doubling the sentence in some cases.

Kristerrson stressed that the authorities will proceed with deportations of foreigners associated with criminal circles, even if they themselves have not been involved in any crime. He added that there is a need to install cameras in public places and to create special prisons for minors.

It is still unclear exactly how the military could be involved, but previous talks suggest that soldiers may take on police duties in order to release resources to fight crime.

Last year, more than 60 people died in shootings in Sweden, the highest number ever recorded, and this year is expected to see no improvement. An official government report published in 2021 said that four per 1 million inhabitants die in shootings each year in Sweden compared to 1.6 people per 1 million across Europe.

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