November 4: The Swedish Immigration Service sent out a press release, saying that it had hired close to a thousand additional employees since June. The Immigration Service now has over 7,000 employees, including hourly workers and consultants -- double the 3,350 employees who worked there in 2012. Most of the new recruits work with the legal processing of asylum applications, but the units dealing with receiving migrants and filing their initial applications have also expanded considerably. As if the record influx of migrants this autumn were not crushing enough, the Immigration Service also had trouble retaining its staff. Employees complain about being badly treated: they are always expected to be on call, and possibly even work Christmas Eve.
November 4: Bobel Barqasho, a 31-year-old Syrian, was sentenced by Sweden's Supreme Court to 14 years in prison. Before his case reached the Supreme Court, Barqasho had been sentenced by a lower court to 9 years in prison, then acquitted by the Court of Appeals. In February 2013, Barqasho threw his wife off a sixth-floor balcony. Against all odds, the woman survived the 13-meter (about 43 feet) fall, but was badly injured. When she woke up after five weeks in a coma, her head was held together by a helmet, her face felt loose, and her teeth were gone. In the Court of Appeals, the defense managed to plant reasonable doubt about the man's guilt by claiming the woman was depressed and had jumped of her own free will] so the Court of Appeals set him free. By the time the Supreme Court pronounced its sentence of 14 years, Barqasho had disappeared. He is now being sought by Interpol.
November 6: The Grönkulla School in Alvesta closed after reports of a rape at the facility spread on social media. A Somali boy had apparently been sexually harassing a 12-year-old girl for some time. On October 17, he allegedly took his attentions a step farther, pulled the girl behind a bush and raped her. The girl's father had been unsuccessful in trying to get the school to address the problem earlier, but even after the reported rape, the school's management did not act. The boy was allowed to continue going to the school – just on a schedule different from the girl's. Her distraught parents told the news website Fria Tider: "We are being spat on because we are Swedish." In protest against the school's management, many parents, viewing the school as having sided with the perpetrator, moved their children to other schools.
November 9: Social commentator and whistleblower Merit Wager revealed on her blog that administrators at the Immigration Service had all been ordered to "accept the claim that an applicant is a child, if he does not look as if he is over 40." A staggering 32,180 "unaccompanied refugee children" had arrived during 2015 by December 1 -- since then another 1,130 have come -- and the government finally decided to take action. If its proposition is approved by Parliament, everyone who looks adult-aged will be forced to go through a medical age-determination procedure. One of the reasons Sweden stopped doing these in the first place, was that pediatricians refused to take part in them. They said the procedures were "unreliable."
November 10: A 28-year-old Iraqi man was prosecuted for raping a woman on a night train between Finland and Sweden. The man had originally planned to seek asylum in Finland, but had found the living conditions there too harsh. He had therefore taken a train back to Sweden. In a couchette (sleeping car where men and women are together), the rapist and two other asylum seekers met one of the many Swedish women whose hearts go out to "new arrivals." The woman bought sandwiches for the men; they drank vodka. When two of the men started groping the woman, she told them to stop, yet chose to lie down and go to sleep. Sometime during the night, she was awakened by the Iraqi as he raped her. The woman managed to break free and locate a train attendant. To the attendant's surprise, the woman did not immediately want to press charges. The court documents state: "The train attendant asked if he should call the police. At first, the woman did not want him to do so, because she did not want to put N.N., an asylum seeker, in a tough spot. She felt sorry for him... and was afraid he would be deported back to Iraq."
The man was given a sentence of one year in prison, payment of 85,000 kronor (about $10,000) in damages, and deportation -- but will be allowed to come back to Sweden after five years.
November 10: An Algerian and a Syrian asylum seeker were indicted for raping a Swedish woman in Strängnäs. The men, 39-year-old from Algeria and 31-year-old from Syria, met the woman in a bar one night in August. When the woman left, one of the men followed her, pulled her to the ground, and assaulted her. Afterwards, the woman kept walking, and ran into two other men -- the Syrian and another unidentified man -- and was raped again. The Syrian reportedly also spit her in face and said, "I'm going to f--k you, little Swedish girl." The men, who lived at the same asylum house, denied knowing each other when questioned by the police. The verdict was announced on December 1. Rapist number one was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, 117,000 kronor (about $14,000) in damages, and deportation to Algeria. Rapist number two was convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to four years in prison. He cannot be deported, however, because "there are currently hindrances towards enforcing deportations to Syria." He was also ordered to pay the woman 167,000 kronor (about $20,000) in damages.
November 13: A trial began against eight Eritrean men, between the ages of 19 and 26, who according to the District Court, "crudely and ruthlessly" gang-raped a 45-year-old woman. She had been waiting in a stairwell for a friend when the men invited her into an apartment. Inside, she was thrown on the floor, held down, beaten and brutally raped. When questioned by the police, she said, "It felt as if there were hands and fingers everyplace. Fingers penetrated me, vaginally, anally. It hurt very much. I could feel the fingernails." She said she could also hear the Eritreans laughing and speaking in their own language while they raped her. "They seemed to be enjoying themselves," she said.
When two of the men started fighting over who should rape her next, she tried to flee, but one of the men hit her over the head; she fell unconscious. After coming to, she escaped out a window and was able to reach a neighbor.
The District Court of Falun established that several men had taken part in the attack, but the District Attorney was unable to prove who had done what. Therefore, only one man was convicted of aggravated rape, and sentenced to five years in prison. The others were sentenced to only 10 months in prison for helping to conceal a serious criminal offense. After serving their time, the men will be allowed to stay in Sweden.
November 14: The Swedish Security Service, Säpo, warned again of Muslim terrorists hiding among migrants. The number of individuals listed as potential security threats has tripled this year, and includes several hundred who may be ready to carry out "Paris-style" attacks. As the Immigration Service has a huge backlog in trying to register all 150,000 asylum seekers who have come to Sweden so far in 2015, there are probably also many migrants that would be considered potential security threats.
November 14: Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, made yet another strange statement with diplomatic consequences. The day after the Paris attacks, in an interview with Swedish Public Television, Wallström was asked, "How worried are you about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who choose to fight for ISIS?" Wallström replied:
"Yes, of course we have
areason to be worried not only here in Sweden but around the world, because there are so many who are being radicalized. Here again, you come back to situations like that in the Middle East, where not least the Palestinians see that there isn't any future for us [the Palestinians], we either have to accept a desperate situation or resort to violence."
Two days later, the Swedish ambassador to Israel, Carl Magnus Nesser, was called to a meeting at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Its spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, later told Reuters, "The Swedish Foreign Minister's statements are appallingly impudent... [She] demonstrates genuine hostility when she points to a connection of any kind between the terror attacks in Paris and the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians."
In a formal statement, the Swedish Foreign Ministry denied that Margot Wallström's remark had connected the Paris attacks with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A Swedish Conservative (Moderaterna) Member of Parliament, Hanif Bali, sarcastically tweeted that it seemed the Foreign Minister is suffering from an "obvious case of Israel-Tourette's."
November 18: The Authority for Civil Protection and Contingency Planning (MSB) warned that the asylum situation was not only "very strained," but that things keep getting worse -- and that in some parts of Sweden, the authorities can only function until the end of December. Meanwhile, the Immigration Service calculated that another 13,000 beds are needed in so-called evacuation accommodations. "The problem cannot be fully solved even if the Armed Forces help provide more housing or if the MSB could arrange more tent accommodations," the authority wrote.
The massive influx of asylum seekers has also led to native Swedes "being crowded out of the health care and social services systems," according to the MSB. "It [the MSB] is so busy handling unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, that there simply is not enough time to tend to the everyday functions, such as healthcare and social services," said Alexandra Nordlander, Chief of Operative Analysis at the MSB, to the daily tabloid, Aftonbladet.
November 19: A fire broke out at Lundsbrunn Spa, a few weeks after plans were announced to convert the historic building into the biggest asylum-seekers' home in Sweden. According to the police, the fire was not an arson, but started in a wood-pellet stove.
Many hotels and spas have transforming themselves into asylum-seekers' housing, in order to profit from lucrative deals offered by the Immigration Service. Lundsbrunn Spa, near a mineral spring, dates back to 1890; in 1817, a hospital was established on the grounds. The nearby village is home to fewer than 1,000 people, so when Lundsbrunn Spa decided to accept an offer from the Immigration Service, the village faced a doubling of its population. The owners of Lundsbrunn wrote on the Spa's website that they see the transformation from spa to asylum-seekers' home as a temporary measure.
November 20: Norwegian businessman Petter Stordalen, the billionaire owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, announced that the chain's many properties in Scandinavia and the Baltic states would no longer serve their guests sausage and bacon for breakfast. The breakfast buffet of the Nordic Choice's Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg was named earlier this year the best hotel breakfast in the world by the British newspaper, The Mirror. But apparently, this award did not matter. The cause for the hotel's decision was cited as "health reasons." The internet, however, was soon abuzz with speculation that the real reason was adaptation to Islamic dietary laws (halal). One week later, Stordalen backtracked. The reaction from hotel guests had been too strong. Many people vented their anger over the withheld bacon on Stordalen's Facebook page. Stordalen commented: "The guests have spoken. Comfort Hotels are bringing back bacon."
November 23: Hassan Mostafa Al-Mandlawi, 32, and Al Amin Sultan, 30, were indicted in the Gothenburg Municipal Court, suspected of having traveled to Syria in 2013 and murdering at least two people there. The charge was terrorist crimes, (alternatively crimes against international law) and murder. Chief Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström, of the National Unit for Security Cases, said: "The act [was] committed with the intent to harm the state of Syria and intimidate the people, thus the classification: terrorist crimes. The hard part is to clarify fully whether these men have been part of an armed group, and acted within the frames of the armed conflict, or not."
The accused men came to Sweden, one from Iraq and one from Syria, as children, but grew up in Sweden and are Swedish citizens. They traveled to Syria in 2013, and joined one of the many Islamist terror groups there. According to the prosecution, they murdered two captured workers in an industrial area of Aleppo by slitting their throats. The prosecutor wrote that, "Al-Mandlawi and Sultan have both expressed delight at the deeds."
During the trial, films of the executions were shown, but both men still denied having committed the crimes. Those present in court agreed that the films were among the most disturbing ever displayed in a Swedish court. First, they show a man having his throat slit, the blood gushing before he dies. Then, the other victim's head is severed from his body, and the killer holds up the severed head to loud cheers from the others. The court's chairman, Ralf G. Larsson, told the news agency, TT: "Every night when I have gone to bed, I have seen a head hanging in the air."
Two Swedish citizens were convicted by a Gothenburg Court of joining an Islamist terror group in Syria and murdering two captives. Video evidence (left) showed one victim being beheaded. When asked if she is worried about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who choose to fight for ISIS, Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström (right), blamed Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
November 25: The municipality of Ängelholm proudly announced that it had managed to hire a world-famous star to sing at the 500-year anniversary of the city of Ängelholm. Mezzo-soprano Susanne Resmark, of La Scala in Milan and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, would now, for the first time, sing in her hometown. The denizens of Ängelholm would get to enjoy the Resmark, considered by many one of the best Mezzo-sopranos, in a free performance. Two days later, however, the local paper, Helsingborgs Dagblad, ran a story on how Resmark had posted on her Facebook page comments critical of Islam. This apparently sent representatives of the municipality into a panic; they cancelled the star's performance. The journalist behind the story, Jan Andersson, admitted in an interview with Dispatch International that the paper's reporters had gone over Resmark's statements with a microscope
, in an effort to force the municipality to cancel her appearance. "We did a damn fine job!" Andersson said.
November 27: One week after Sweden raised its terror alert level to the highest ever in the country (four on a five-point scale), the police raised another alarm -- saying their weapons are simply not good enough to prevent a potential terror attack. "We are sent out without adequate weapons, only a nine millimeter service pistol. We are also told that there may not be enough protective vests and ballistic helmets. It feels like being sent out on a lion hunt with a pea-shooter and a jumpsuit made out of zebra meat," wrote a police officer called "Christian," in an internal incident report reviewed by the news agency, Siren.
His colleague, "Niklas," wrote that he had to patrol, without a protective helmet, a location considered at risk of terror attacks, because none of the available helmets fit his head: "Without the right equipment, and with inadequate training in tactics and shooting, we still had to work as live targets without any kind of chance to defend ourselves or our [locations] against a potential attack."
The police say they want to be able to use more powerful weapons, such as the HK MP5, a submachine gun that is popular with law enforcement agencies around the world. Few, however, have had the required training for it. Also, the existing MP5s are kept at police stations -- not in patrol cars. Martin Lundin, of the Department of National Operations, conceded there was some merit to the criticism: "We will probably need more people who are able to handle that weapon in the future."
November 28: A large mob at an asylum house in Nora tried to break into a room where a woman had barricaded herself along with her son. Some 30 Muslim men apparently thought the woman was in violation of Islamic sharia law, by being in Sweden unaccompanied by a man. They thought that she should therefore be raped and her teenage son killed. Asylum house staff called the police, who averted the plan.
Ingrid Carlqvist is a journalist and author based in Sweden, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of Gatestone Institute.