Swedish ire stopped CIA ‘terror flights’

Suspicions that the United States was transporting terror suspects via Sweden on clandestine flights resulted in a diplomatic crisis, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.

Swedish ire stopped CIA 'terror flights'

Planes chartered by the United States to transport terror suspects across Europe made stops in Sweden as late as 2006, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

When the Swedish government requested information clarifying the purpose of the flights, a minor diplomatic crisis erupted and stopovers in Sweden by US government chartered planes carrying prisoners from the war on terror stopped soon thereafter.

Secret US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks reveal that two planes carrying terror suspects landed at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport in 2006, one in February and one in April.

According to SvD, the cables are the first public confirmation that both flights had prisoners on board.

The United States’ chargé d’affaires in Stockholm at the time, Stephen V. Noble, wrote in a cable to Washington that the government of Sweden, led at the time by Social Democratic prime minister Göran Persson, had concerns over reports that planes flown by the United States’ CIA intelligence service had been landing at airports throughout Europe.

According to the cable, the Swedish government was bothered by the fact that the plane which had landed in February had been registered as a private plane when in fact it had been chartered by the US government.

Noble describes how, a few days ahead of the scheduled landing of a US plane in April, a high ranking US diplomat was called to the Swedish foreign ministry and made to answer a series of questions about the CIA plane and its mission.

The Persson-government made it clear that it wanted to know if the United States was transporting prisoners and indicated that future flights would be given closer scrutiny.

Confirmation that the planes were transporting prisoners came in April 2006 after a daring “surveillance operation” was ordered by Swedish security service Säpo and carried out without the knowledge of the Americans.

On Säpo’s orders, Swedish military intelligence agents dressed up as airport service personnel and boarded the plane. The agents reported back that the plane was carrying prisoners.

In April 2009, the Expressen newspaper first reported that Swedish intelligence agents had spied on a CIA plane at Arlanda and found it filled with chained prisoners clad with black hoods and unable to move.

A spokesperson for Säpo confirmed for SvD that the agency had carried out a surveillance operation at Arlanda airport in April 2006 on a US government plane suspected of carrying terror suspects, but refused to elaborate on what the operation revealed.

Based on the evidence reviewed by SvD, no more secret American prisoner transports have landed in Sweden since 2006.

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Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected.