Sweden: Chechen recruiters arrested at border

Sweden: Chechen recruiters arrested at border

Last March three Chechen men were stopped by customs in Sweden.  Three automatic weapons, ammunition and a silencer were hidden in the spare tire of their Audi.  The Chechens said they were on their way from Austria to Norway to visit friends and go fishing.

Swedish police and the prosecution think they would have used the weapons to commit robbery and that in Norway they would have collected money and recruited soldiers for separatist activity in their homeland.

When the three Chechens were stopped by customs in Trelleborg, Malmö, the custom officials quickly got suspicious.  The suspected leader and later convicted 27 year old sat in the backseat of the Audi A3.  While the leader was missing his right arm, the men in the front seat was missing both arms.  A third man was therefore hired as driver.

The 27 year old leader left the war in Chechnya when he lost his right arm because of the Russians, and moved to Austria.

When the custom agents took out the spare tire and scanned it, they discovered there was something hidden inside the tire.  When they cut it up they found weapons, ammunition and a silencer hidden behind newspaper and a black jacket.

When the leader was left on his own in the interview room, he destroyed a USB stick, who he partially tried to hide behind a radiator.  Later he explained that the memory stick contained pictures of his sister mother, whom he hadn't seen for several years.

Lawyer Ola Sjöstrand in Malmö confirmed to Dagbladet.no that one of the main theories of the police was that the three planned a robbery.  "When somebody comes with so many weapons, ammunition and black clothing, it's probable for the police to suspect robbery," says Sjöstrand.

In the interrogation all three denied knowing about the weapons.  The 27 year old leader thought the weapons were placed there to trap him.

The 27 year old explained to the police that they two armless men and the driver  were on their way from Austria to Norway to visit friends and to go fishing.  He wasn't able to name the friends or exactly why he should.

In addition he said that he needed money from a person called Sajfodin, a not uncommon name in the Chechen exile community, where many operate under several names.

Lawyer Ola Sjöstrand told Dagbladet.no that they said there would just fish, and saw themselves as tourists.  He theorizes that they came to Norway to talk with their Chechen brothers, and collect money for their activities.

According to the Swedish security service SÄPO, the 27 year old has a leading position for the Chechen refugees in West Europe.  With Dokka Umarov, an organization labeled as terrorist by the Russians, behind him, he's responsible for collecting money and recruiting soldiers in Europe.

SÄPO therefore quickly started following the case after he was arrested after the customs seizure.  The Swedish security service didn't want to comment to Dagbladet.no on the case directly, but confirms that they have ongoing contact with the investigators of the case.

In June the 27 year old was sentenced for a serious smuggling attempt.  In January he was freed and was deported from Sweden.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

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