Swedish would-be ISIS fighters jailed after recruitment sting

Two brothers were prepared to travel wherever terrorist group needed them

This frame grab from video posted online Monday, March 18, 2019, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows IS fighters firing their weapons during clashes with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters, in Baghouz, the IS group's last pocket of territory in Syria. U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group announced Tuesday they have taken control over an encampment in an eastern Syrian village where IS militants have been besieged for months, refusing to surrender. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)
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Two Swedish brothers have been sentenced to jail for eight months after their efforts to join ISIS unravelled when their recruiter was revealed as an undercover intelligence officer.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested in February at Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport as they tried to leave Sweden to join the combat ranks of the terrorist group.

Prosecutors produced 200 pages of messages passed to them by an unidentified foreign intelligence agency, which revealed how the pair were seeking a fighting role with ISIS.

They told their ‘recruiter’ that they were prepared to travel to Syria, Iraq or Libya, where they held joint citizenship, prosecutors said.

They were found to be carrying equipment including a rifle sling, knee and elbow pads and an MP3 player that included lectures about martyrdom, senior public prosecutor Henrik Olin said.

The men, who were born in Sweden but spent some of their childhood in Libya, were believed to have previously been in the region in 2013 fighting for an extremist group.

Mr Olin said the messages showed that the pair were willing to travel wherever they were needed and wanted more than merely administrative roles with ISIS.

“It was clear they really wanted to fight for ISIS,” he said. “During months of conversations, they were open to joining ISIS.

“The message was clear that that would be where it was doing the most good from the ISIS perspective.”

The Swedish security service had been monitoring the pair before they turned up at airport in their home town of Gothenburg for a flight to Turkey. The brothers had told the Swedish tax office that they planned to leave the country for at least a year.

The pair, one a school assistant and the other a government worker, claimed they had planned to visit relatives in Libya – but Mr Olin said none of them knew the brothers were on their way.

The men were the first to be prosecuted under a new Swedish law criminalising people who travel with the intention of joining terrorist groups. They had denied the charges but were convicted earlier this year.

Updated: May 25, 2022, 3:31 PM