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Sweden has a problem with bombs and criminal gangs

Murders, sexual violence, shootings, bombs, areas where not even ambulances enter. A model of integration under siege

The window of a shop struck by an explosion in Sweden

Just talk about bombs today, as in the last few months of this year there have been dozens of explosions that experts attribute to gang intimidation, and the state struggling to find effective solutions.

In the last two months in Sweden the fire brigade intervened after as many as 30 explosions; since the beginning of the year there have been 100, more than double compared to the first ten months of 2018. In Sweden, what is being described by many as an “emergency” linked to gang violence is now underway and has become a felt social concern and widespread, above all because of some episodes in which people were injured, even if so far none so serious.

Is the police prepared to act firmly?

Over the weekend, the Guardian said, police arrested three people for an explosion in a building in Malmรถ, Sweden’s third largest city, where about a third of the explosions this year occurred. Nineteen explosions took place in the capital Stockholm, and another 13 in Gothenburg. In 2018 there were a total of 39 explosions. In the hundred this year, 76 cases were added in which the bomb technicians were able to defuse the devices before they exploded.

The explosions occurred mainly in empty buildings, office complexes and on the street, in front of shops or the damage of parked cars. It is not terrorism, at least not in its traditional definition: the experts agree in attributing the explosions to attempts at intimidation between rival criminal gangs, and not injuring or killing civilians. The Swedish media, as well as the political class both right-wing and center-left, have more or less explicitly accused immigrants of being responsible for this violence between criminal gangs.

Sweden was affected by a large influx of migrants in 2015, when there were over 160,000 asylum applications, proportionately more than in any other European country. Despite the proverbial tolerance of Scandinavian societies, and despite the well-known efficiency of their welfare system, in many urban areas of Sweden there remain serious problems of social exclusion and economic inequalities, which in recent times have particularly affected the most recent immigrants. These integration problems have also caused a rapid rise of right-wing xenophobic movements, such as the Swedish Democrats, who grew very much in the elections of September 2018, which were also won by the Social Democrats, who have since led a minority government.

Police intensifies checks everywhere

Analysis on the type of people

A recent study by the Swedish Defense University explained that in many poor neighborhoods criminal gang structures are so strong and entrenched that they have partially ousted the influence of the state. As happens in several major European cities, that is, there are areas where the police fail to apply the law, and where the social order is at least partly managed by criminal gangs. Wilhelm Agrell, professor of intelligence analysis at Lund University, warned that the situation has degenerated to the point of jeopardizing the stability of the Swedish state, which has lost the monopoly of violence: “armed criminal violence is always having effects more similar to those of terrorism ยป. In addition to the explosions, the shootings have also grown in recent years, going from four to twenty years ago to over 40 in 2018.

Ylva Ehrlin, the bomb analyst, told SVT, the public television network, that he had never seen a similar number of explosions in an industrialized country, despite Sweden’s only 10 million inhabitants. Although there have been no deaths yet, the risk is very high, also because the devices are often assembled by people who do not have much experience with explosives. A bomb discovered in Linkรถping, for example, contained about 40 times the amount of explosives of other bombs: 25 people were injured in the detonation, and two residential buildings were seriously damaged. In December last year, an 18-year-old man who was seriously injured in an explosion was later charged with being the bomber.

One of the most serious episode

The most serious episode so far has occurred in the university town of Lund, where a student has suffered serious facial injuries when a bomb exploded in a store in front of which she was passing. In October, Denmark intensified border controls with Sweden, after some explosions in Copenhagen had been linked to violence between Swedish gangs.

What’s the solution

So far, about 10% of the cases of explosions have been solved by the police, mainly due to the great silence in criminal circles and the difficulty of investigating in areas controlled by criminal gangs. In September, Swedish Interior Minister Mikael Damberg announced a plan to combat violence between criminal gangs, made up of 34 points that basically give more power to the police to intercept encrypted conversations and phone calls and to do searches. Despite growing concerns, the homicide rate in Sweden remains one of the lowest in the world: although those related to organized crime have increased, those that occur in domestic settings have decreased significantly.

Why does this happen?

  • Huge cultural difference and do not want to integrate
  • They just want to take advantage of the benefits system
  • The Northern European system trusts too much in foreigners
  • The police and security are not sufficiently prepared to face the mentality or intentions of a foreigner who arrives in the country
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