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Swedish security service says 4 people arrested on suspicion of preparing ‘terrorist offenses’

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s Security Service said Thursday it had arrested four people on suspicion of preparing “terrorist offenses” with links to Islamic extremism and organized crime.

The service did not say where or when the alleged attacks were to have taken place, but in a brief statement it added that it had “worked on the case for a long period of time.”

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Several houses were searched in the operation. which involved “violent Islamist extremism” with “connections to serious organized crime,” the statement said.

Sweden media reported there was a major police operation in Tyreso, south of Stockholm, and public broadcaster SVT said there was a “powerful explosion in a clubhouse” but it was unclear what caused the blast.

In August, the security service, known as SAPO, raised its terror alert to the second-highest level following the public desecrations of religious texts.

The security situation has deteriorated in recent months following Quran burnings in the country and protests in the Muslim world, both of which have negatively impacted the Nordic nation’s image.

The burning and desecration of religious books in Sweden, and ongoing disinformation campaigns on social media and elsewhere, have negatively affected Sweden’s profile.

The image has changed “from a tolerant country to a country hostile to Islam and Muslims, where attacks on Muslims are sanctioned by the state and where Muslim children can be kidnapped by social services,” the agency said last year.

The desecrations were carried out under the freedom of speech. Sweden does not have a law specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Quran or other religious texts. Like many Western countries, it doesn’t have any blasphemy laws; Sweden’s were abandoned in the 1970s.

The arrests came on the same day that Sweden became the 32nd member of NATO, ending decades of post-World War II neutrality.

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