Sweden raised its terror alert to the second-highest level on Thursday after a string of public desecrations of the Quran sparked angry demonstrations across Muslim countries and threats from militant groups.
The Swedish Security Service, known as SÄPO, lifted the “terror threat level” one notch to “high,” the fourth of five levels, for the first time since 2016.
The move reflects Swedish concerns that repeated Quran-burnings this year by a handful of anti-Islam activists have made the Scandinavian country a prime target for Islamic extremists.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson noted that Swedish interests abroad had already been targeted, including the storming of Sweden’s Embassy in Baghdad last month and an attempted attack on the diplomatic mission in Beirut last week.
“There are also several examples of terrorist groups that have urged their sympathizers around the world to take revenge for the Quran burnings that have taken place in Sweden. Among them are Hezbollah in Lebanon, al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaida,” Kristersson said at a joint news conference with the justice minister and the heads of the Swedish Security Service and national police.