National Terrorist Threat Assessment 2023
The threat of terrorism in Finland remains elevated, corresponding to level two on the four-point scale. Supo has identified far-right and radical Islamist operators who probably have the desire and capacity to carry out violent attacks. Supporters of these ideologies pose the most likely threat, either as individuals or in small groups. Attacks remain unlikely in the short term.
Supo finds that the threat of terrorism in Finland remains at level two on the four-point scale. The most likely threat of a terrorist attack comes from lone actors or small groups advocating far-right or radical Islamist ideology.
The ideological flexibility of persons remains a key emerging trend, with no necessary loyalty to any particular organization.
Some 350 individuals are identified targets of counterterrorism operations in Finland. The list of CT targets is not permanent, and people are continuously added to and removed from the list.
The threat of far-right terrorism has grown stronger
Racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia are typical factors highlighted in far-right ideology internationally. Inspiration from previous attacks, the impression of a threat to the white population and idolisation of terrorism online are characteristic features. The extreme right in Finland also shares such views. Supo has identified some individuals who support and sympathise with far-right terrorist activities. Lone individuals and small groups on the extreme right pose a significant threat of terrorism in Finland. The threat of violence particularly targets representatives of ethnic and religious minority groups and those politically active persons that are perceived as ideological opponents. Other parties viewed as enemies in far-right ideology are also potential targets.
Supo has identified some individual right-wing extremists who left Finland for the Ukrainian war zone. Participation in the conflict will also increase the likelihood of radicalisation of these Finnish individuals. Networking on social media platforms, disseminating
propaganda and promoting violence are integral to the activities of the extreme right in Finland. Some Finnish people also have links to Siege culture, in which supporters of white supremacy incite terrorist violence and race war to overthrow the prevailing social order.
Activists associated with the Nordic Resistance Movement, which was disbanded in 2020, have continued similar activities in new formations. While organized far-right movements do not currently pose a terrorist threat, they establish a potential breeding ground for radicalising individuals.
An interest in weapons and explosives is still highlighted on the extreme right
The threat of radical Islamist terrorism is unchanged
Supo has identified some individual supporters of radical Islamist ideology with the capacity and motivation to mount a terrorist attack. Most of the CT targets remain supporters of radical Islamism. The threat of an attack primarily arises from individuals and small groups. Police in Finland apprehended a man in December 2022 on suspicion of training to commit a terrorist offence. Radical Islamist materials were found in his possession.
The most likely approach to mounting a terrorist attack linked to radical Islamist ideology will be a simple one, and will target the civilian population or authorities in public places. Acts or events that are perceived as offensive or hostile to Islam, such as burning the Koran or taking military action against terrorist organisations in a conflict zone, are likely to increase the threat of a terrorist attack in the short term.
The principal measures taken in Finland to support radical Islamism concern the transfer of funds and the spread of ideology online. Dissemination and consumption of propaganda mainly occur via encrypted instant messaging applications and chat groups. Attacks are incited against such targets as those representing a different faith or sexual minorities. Individuals radicalized online may follow the propaganda of several radical Islamist terrorist organisations, with no clear allegiance to any particular one of them.
The foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon continues to affect the radical Islamist operating environment in Finland. There are still some individual supporters of radical Islamism with links to Finland living in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq. It is unlikely that networks of those who have returned from conflict zones or individual returnees will be inspired to engage in terrorist operations in Finland in the short term.
Radical Islamist terrorism globally is mainly concentrated in unstable regions such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the Sahel. The importance of sub-Saharan Africa as an operating zone for al-Qaeda and ISIL is growing rapidly. Al-Qaeda has secured greater operating room in Afghanistan due to its close relations with the Taliban regime. The death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in July 2022 has very probably not reduced the threat posed by the organisation.
Growth in violent radicalization of young people online
The threat of other terrorism is minimal
The terrorist threat posed by the extreme left and by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Finland remains minimal. The PKK and its supporters focus in Finland on fundraising and influencing activities. The far left in Finland mainly focuses on anti-fascist activism and supporting the activities of the PKK. Far-left activities in Finland are mainly non-violent, while operations that support
violence are primarily directed outside of Finland. PKK operations in the Middle East are aimed at Turkey and Turkish targets.
Anti-government movements in Finland have generally been non-violent. For example, opposition to measures related to COVID-19 have focused on arranging demonstrations.
Assessment of short-term trends in the terrorism outlook for Finland
The threat of terrorism will probably remain at level two (elevated) on the four-point scale. The most likely threat of a terrorist attack in Finland will continue to be posed by individuals or small groups supporting extreme right-wing or radical Islamist ideologies. People with a background of violent crime will probably have the most significant capacity for terrorist violence.
The online environment enables adoption of ideas from many ideological directions, and in that context it is not necessary for individuals to commit to the activities of a single organisation. Online radicalisation is likely to reach younger age groups.
Unlicensed weapons spreading from the Ukrainian war zone are likely to increase the capacity of extremists in Europe for violence. Individuals will probably continue travelling to Ukraine and other conflict areas.