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Swedish spy chief warns of rise of Islamist threat

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's biggest security threat comes from around 200 Islamists in the country with the potential for involvement in militant attacks, including young people radicalised after joining the war in Syria, the state's spy chief said. 

Increasing Russian espionage and signs of "war planning" from Moscow since the Ukraine crisis took second place in Sweden's overall security assessment - although it did not see any increased immediate threat, Anders Thornberg said.

Sweden has long taken a standoffish position in international affairs, avoiding even the world wars of the last century. But military roles in Afghanistan and missions to Mali have undermined that formal neutrality and made Sweden more of a target, said Thornberg, who has spent over two decades at SAPO.

"We are talking about a couple of hundred people that are supporting or are willing and capable to carry out terrorist attacks in Sweden or planning a terrorist attack in Sweden against targets in neighbouring countries or other places in the world," Thornberg told Reuters.

Thornberg, head of the SAPO security police, said there were more radicalised Swedes involved in Syria over the past two years than in the past 10 years of other insurgent campaigns.