Iran Hires Swedish Criminal Gangs for Proxy War With Israel in Scandinavia, Intelligence Officials Say

The Swedish security agency accuses the Iranian regime of using criminal networks in Sweden to carry out violence against Israeli targets.

AP/Martin Meissner
A protester shouts into a megaphone during a Pro-Palestinian demonstration for excluding Israel from Eurovision ahead of the second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, Thursday, May 9, 2024. AP/Martin Meissner

Sweden’s national intelligence agency is accusing Iran of recruiting Swedish gang members to extend its terror regime against Israel into Scandinavia. 

The head of counterintelligence at the Swedish Security Service, Daniel Stenling, announced in a statement Thursday that, “the Iranian regime is using criminal networks in Sweden to carry out acts of violence against other states, groups or people in Sweden that it considers a threat.” 

Mr. Stenling added that the Swedish agency, known as SOPA, “can establish that criminal networks in Sweden are used as a proxy by Iran” to plan and carry out attacks “against Israeli and Jewish interests, goals and activities in Sweden.” 

Israel and Iran have been engaged in an ongoing shadow war for nearly half a century, with Iran attacking the Jewish state via terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen. 

The proxy conflict came to a head in April when Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel following an Israeli airstrike on a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Syria that reportedly killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Israel and her allies managed to intercept nearly 99 percent of the 300-plus Iranian munitions.

“Our assessment is that this is a regional conflict that has spread globally and now also includes Sweden as an arena for this conflict,” Mr. Stenling said during the press conference.

The accusations follow several recent incidents at the Israeli Embassy at Stockholm, including the discovery of what was believed to be a hand grenade outside the embassy back in January and a suspected shooting incident on the grounds earlier this month. 

The recent rise in cases of gang violence in Sweden led the security agency to upgrade the country’s reported terror level threat last year to a four out of five, or what they classify as “high,” for the first time since 2016.  

The two gangs at the helm of the gang violence, Foxtrot and Rumba, were initially believed to be involved in the drug business.  However, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports that the heads of the two gangs may have been recruited by the Iranian government, according to records from the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. 

The alleged documents suggest that the head of Foxtrot, Rawa Majid, was recently arrested in Iran and subsequently offered to avoid jail time by cooperating with the regime. 

A leader of the Rumba gang, Ismail Abdo, the Swedish press reports, was suspiciously released from Turkish jail after posting bail for a traffic violation in spite of an international warrant for his arrest.   

These allegations come alongside a rise in incidents of antisemitic hate crimes in Sweden following October 7. Between Hamas’s attack on Israel and the end of the year, 110 incidents were reported, more than four times as many as seen during the same period the year before. The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported that 20 percent of the reports contain some form of reference to Hamas’s attack on Israel or Israel’s subsequent war at Gaza. 

During this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by Sweden at Malmo, thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators swarmed the city to protest Israel’s participation in the event. The Israeli government even warned its citizens of a “tangible concern” that Israelis might be targeted for attack in the Swedish city during the competition. 

However, during the press conference, Mr. Stenling assured Israelis and Jews living in Sweden that they would be well protected. “We are working hard to ensure a secure environment for everyone in Sweden, including Israeli and Jewish interests in Sweden,” he said.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use