Thomas Brooke, Remix, October 20, 2023
More than a quarter of all ISIS brides returned to Sweden from the Al-Hol camp in Syria are now working with young children in the Swedish education sector, an investigation by the Expressen newspaper has revealed.
Of the 81 women confirmed to have fled Sweden to join the Islamic State at the peak of its power and subsequently repatriated, 21 were found to now be employed in Swedish schools, kindergartens, and asylum centers for kids.
The bombshell report evoked a strong reaction from government ministers who questioned how radicalized individuals who were willing to join a terrorist organization had been permitted to work with young people upon their return to the country.
“This shouldn’t have been allowed to happen,” said Education Minister Lotta Edholm in response to the news.
“It is completely unacceptable that people who are IS terrorists work in the Swedish school system, leisure centers, and the like,” she added.
Edholm confirmed that she had called an urgent meeting with the relevant authorities to discuss the issue, and accused educational facilities of systemic failure in screening its candidates.
“It is the employer’s responsibility to take references, for example, and to have control over what a person has done before being employed. In these cases, it has clearly failed,” she told the Expressen.
It is understood that the Security Police, the Center against Violent Extremism, and several representatives of independent schools and their school boards have been summoned for talks.
Edholm admitted it is likely that some of the former jihadists had taken the jobs with ulterior motives.
“It is surely not a wild guess to believe that at least some of these have taken jobs in the school world to influence young people in this direction,” she said.
Sweden appears to have an issue with extremists falling through the cracks when it comes to employment background checks, particularly within the education sector. Earlier this year, the Expressen reported that a male ISIS returnee, who had been convicted and jailed for joining the terror organization, had acquired work as a substitute P.E. teacher in Gothenburg just three months after being released from prison.
The newspaper revealed that the details of that particular crime had not been required to be disclosed during a background check, and thus his employers had no knowledge of his extremist history.
“The school system must understand that we are in a different situation today,” Edholm said as she called for reforms to the screening system. “You have to get proper references when hiring people, even for people who may be hired just for a temporary position,” she added.
Leading terror expert and Swedish political scientist Magnus Ranstorp called the revelations from the report “shocking.”
“They are unsuitable for those positions. They should not work in environments with children and young people, where they can continue to influence them,” he added.