Calls to shut Swedish school where 'ISIS teachers' taught in classrooms

Politicians demand closure of leading state-funded school accused of hiring former militants as teachers

A handout photo of sightseeing on the canals in the city centre of Gothenburg, Sweden (Photo: Kjell Holmner) *** Local Caption ***  WK13SE-TR-MKOP-GOTHENBURG.jpg
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Calls are mounting for the closure of a leading state-funded Islamic school in Sweden that was accused of hiring ISIS fighters as teachers after their return from Syria.

The chancellor of Vetenskapsskolan school in Gothenburg, Abdel Nasser El Nadi, has been caught up in a scandal involving the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bank accounts abroad.

El Nadi was arrested in May with four other top clerics in a clampdown linked to extremism.

Last month Swedish authorities accused him of being a threat to national security, which he denies.

There have been calls to deport him to his native Egypt but legal actions based on human rights laws have ensured this did not happen.

Now politicians are seeking to close the school he ran and owned until September this year. It has since been renamed the Sapphire School.

Reports claim four former ISIS fighters have taught in the school, along with another man who has been accused of soliciting funds for terrorism.

Swedish authorities have faced increasing domestic and international criticism for failing to arrest and prosecute returning ISIS fighters, amid suggestions that the country could be regarded as a sanctuary for terrorists.

Politicians across the political spectrum have called for action against the school from the national inspectorate, which has launched an investigation into demands for its immediate closure.

"It is extremely gratifying that all parties in Gothenburg have been thinking and now follow the initiative of the Swedish Democrats to shut down the business," municipal councillor Joergen Fagelklou told SVT News West.

“For us, the safety of the city's children goes before the well-being of terrorists.”

The new principal, Sven-Erik Berg, said it was up to the School Inspectorate to make the decision, not politicians.

El Nadi went missing after failing to report to authorities as part of the terms of his release from a detention centre in September.

Many of the five arrested have been refused Swedish citizenship over the past decade.

El Nadi, who was born in Egypt, has lived in Sweden since 1992 and has twice been rejected.

Last year under his leadership, the school was criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not promoting equality between girls and boys.

There are 11 Muslim schools in Sweden, which are all funded by the state.

Officials have been focusing on issues in Gothenburg as more than a third of Swedish ISIS fighters are believed to have come from the city.

Latest figures from Sweden's security service Sapo reveal at least 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria and Iraq between 2012 and 2017 to join extremist groups.

It is believed half have returned, 100 are still fighting and 50 were killed.

Sweden is the largest exporter of ISIS fighters per capita in Europe. Under its laws, it is not illegal to be part of or to assist a terrorist organisation.