After Finland suffered its first terrorist attack on 18 August 2017, it was quite clear that the security rules established to keep the population safe, considering the large number of undocumented people we have in the country, are just not enough. Agents need to improve how they evaluate asylum seeking applicants and Finland definitely needs help to conclude the decisions on applications as fast as possible.
The attack itself is not what I would spot to justify us being in danger. It was a terrible act of terrorism but I think between the lines, there is something more dangerous here. The whole way this story has developed after three weeks reading intensively the news about it, shows so many signs of weakness in the way agents investigate and the way government acts in cases of doubt, that I almost believe this attack could have been avoided if the matter of national security had been taken more into consideration.
Before going on I want to explain my point of view of national security: a State must do everything to keep its citizens safe, and it includes a realistic and direct view of what is a threat. It is as simple as this: if it could be a threat, it is a threat and it should be treated as such.
There are other actors playing the role to keep the balance and not to let it go too far, nice, but the State has the obligation to put a nation´safety in the first place even if sometimes it will make a part of them unhappy.
Being really honest I don´t think asylum seekers are a threat for being muslims (specially because not all of them are, you can see the total figures by nationality here). The real threat here is being undocumented or being a radical.
When a person has no papers there is no prove, no history, absolute nothing that could attest that person is who he or she says they are. There is no trace of their previews life, there is no way to know if they are telling or not the truth unless you investigate it really deeply and never ever dismiss a contradiction or something that won´t match. And even in these cases, some are just so good pretenders that mistakes are always a possibility.
The Turku case, in my opinion, has so many holes if we consider the attacker´story…
What we knew at first, one day after the attack, is that an 18-year-old Moroccan man called Abderrahman Mechkah stabbed 8 people in central Turku, killing two of the victims. He was aiming to attack only women but there were men among the victims because those tried to help them. A few days later, we received the information that the attacker´s real name was actually Abderrahman Bouanane and he was 22 years old. From German authorities it was found that this man had stayed there illegally with multiple false identities, for a few months during 2015 and 2016.
So, it was necessary only a few days to find out the man was not who he said he was and to even get quite huge evidence against his good intentions from the German government. Isn´t it a sign of weakness on the way authorities check on people? Should´t we enforce cooperation and invest in a better data server of cases and images?
Supo, the Finnish Intelligence Police, confirmed that in early 2017, they received indications concerning Abderrahman becoming radicalized. Although the indications never mentioned any attack plan, we are talking about a person who is under a process of investigation to give him or not asylum. Shouldn´t there be more strict measures when you know an asylum seeker shows interest in extremist ideology? And going even a bit further, aren´t we – and by that I don´t mean only Finland but all nations worldwide – in a moment in which actual laws to enforce non-radicalization are necessary?
“According to persons interviewed at the Pansio reception centre by national broadcaster Yle, the main suspect arrived to the centre in December 2016 and displayed radicalist behaviour during his stay, such as asking how he could join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), listening to radicalist sermons on his phone and considering Finns to be infidels. The interviewees warned the reception centre management of this behaviour in January 2017.”
I am 100% for freedom of expression and freedom of worship. But I don´t think these two things include hatred speech or radicalism, actually, when it comes to allowing it, we are contradicting very important principles or our Constitution . Radicals of any type: religious, atheists, xenophobic, racists, nazis, they act against the principle of equality of our nation. If you defend the sharia, you are going against the Finnish principle of equality and the Finnish principle of Secular State, as well as the Nordic Resistance Movement goes against those same principles when they spread racism and xenophobia. Radicalization should be the main topic of the national security´s agenda and laws to avoid it criminalizing actions should exist.
Now going back to the case, police has assumed to be currently monitoring around 100 young asylum seeker men in the Southwest area of Finland. According to Supo, around 300 people are being monitored in the whole country under the suspicious of being ISIS and ISIL sympathisers.
Acts of racism, xenophobia, prejudice, these are all crimes. People can pay jail time for them. How come using religion or any kind of belief to spread hate is not immediately treated as a crime?
If all terrorist organizations are considered criminal I really don´t understand how people who sympathise with them and spread their words are not considered criminals too.
Along the investigations on Turku´s case, more people were arrested under suspicious of helping to plan the attack but as far as I know charges were taken way. One fact calls my attention about two of them, though:
“The nationalities of the two new detained men are unclear. According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the men had reportedly given authorities different answers to various immigration officials.
As far as this story goes, at the moment, all suspects were released and until the 1st of September 2017, Bouanane remained as the only one in custody.
It is of course good news that the other suspects were clean on this crime. But what about the crime of false identity?
If you require a simple visa to take a trip to any country and the agent who evaluates your case finds out ANY lie, you will have your visa denied. So, if you lie about who you are presenting fake IDs or whatever, shouldn´t you be immediately deported? Were these two guys deported?
National security has no space for tolerating lies and should be efficient enough to find these lies out. Here, the situation seems to be so chaotic that the government has lost track of around 5 thousand undocumented people. Read more about it here.
Meanwhile we still waiting for more information on how decisions on asylum seeking are made. It seems to me that there is a big mess of crazy things and bad decisions going on. And it´s not only in Finland, yesterday I read an article about the deportation of an old lady, an asylum seeker aged 106 by the government of Sweden. C´mon, really? If authorities see deporting a sick old lady as correct but still leaving horrible gaps as losing track of undocumented people, I have to say that I fear for our safety more than ever.
After the attack in Turku, Finnish government started to give more attention on this matter. I will continue this post talking more about it soon.