Sweden is to deport three foreigners, including an Iraqi Imam in Gavle, suspected of playing a key role in Islamist circles, media reports said on Wednesday, quoting the Swedish migration office.
Swedish counter-terrorism police arrested Abu Raad, the imam of a mosque in Gavle, along with his son in late April, according to AFP.
The third person was another imam from the northern city of Umea, Sweden’s public Radio Sveriges said.
Riyad Abdulkarim Jassim, known as Abu Raad, is 53-year-old and has been on the police’s radar for several years due to his alleged influence within Salafist groups.
The daily Expressen reported that Abu Raad posted a congratulatory message on his Facebook page in 2014 after the Islamic State group took over Mosul and declared a caliphate.
According to the country’s law, Sweden can deport people deemed a threat to national security or susceptible of “committing a terrorist act or taking part in one.”
The men can appeal the decision, but even if the ruling is reversed, they may remain under strict judicial control.
Abu Raad along with his family fled Iraq to Saudi Arabia in 1991 during the first Gulf War, according to local Swedish media.
Abu Raad’s son gained a residency permit in Sweden in 1998, but they failed to get Swedish citizenship.
In a rare public statement on Tuesday, the Swedish counter-terrorism police warned that religious extremism is on the rise in the country.
“The number of individuals in extremist circles advocating violence has grown from several hundred to several thousand in recent years,” the statement reads.