Terrorist plot against Swedish parliament foiled in Germany

German police have arrested two people suspected of planning a terrorist attack on the Swedish parliament in response to the Quran burnings that have taken place in the country in recent years, according to Euractiv. 

Two Afghan nationals, a 30-year-old and a 23-year-old, with links to the Islamic State (IS) Khorasan – the Afghan branch of the terrorist group IS – have been arrested in Gerna, in the German state of Thuringia. The two were transported to Karlsruhe and brought before a pre-trial judge on Tuesday.

“The hearings will take place today and tomorrow, after which a decision will be made on whether to keep them in custody,” Ines Peterson, the spokeswoman for the German Public Prosecutor’s Office, said on Tuesday.

The two men are believed to have planned to open fire on police officers and others in or near the Swedish parliament in Stockholm in response to several Qurans that have been burned in public places in Sweden in recent years, resulting in geopolitical and security implications for the country.

In January 2022, far-right Danish-Swedish political activist Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

His action sparked massive protests across the Muslim world and strained relations between Stockholm and Ankara to the extent that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanded that Sweden change its laws to make such Quran burning illegal to join NATO.

In August 2023, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee named Salwan Momika burned a copy of the Quran in a public square in Norrköping, Sweden, in an act of defiance towards religious institutions.

This incident also triggered strong and sometimes violent responses from Muslim communities in Sweden and around the world. For example, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was stormed that summer and the terrorist threat level was raised to level four out of five.

This is the second case of suspected terrorist plots against Sweden uncovered in Germany, where the motive is said to have been the Quran burnings. In December, two brothers from Syria were convicted of planning to bomb a church in Sweden.

Under Swedish law, the burning of a book such as the Quran is protected by freedom of expression.

“When it comes to questions regarding the German case, the arrests and the operation, we refer to the German authorities. Then, of course, the Swedish Security Service works closely with our international partners, not least in matters related to terrorist offences,” the Swedish security service’s spokesman, Adam Isaksson Samara, said on Tuesday.

As for Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, he said he had told broadcaster SVT that it was “very serious information.”

Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer, for his part, wrote in a comment to the press that the case confirms the country’s threat level.

“This confirms once again that we have a high terrorist threat to Sweden. And it shows the importance of continuing to work in a structured and persistent manner to combat terrorism and violent extremism,” he said.

Niklas Åström, parliament’s head of security, wrote in a statement that the parliament makes regular threat assessments.