National Terrorist Threat Assessment 2024

The threat of terrorism in Finland is elevated, corresponding to level two on the four-point scale. There are probably far-right and radical Islamist operators in Finland with the desire and capacity to carry out violent attacks. Supporters of these ideologies pose the most likely threat, either as individuals or in small groups. Attacks remain unlikely in the short term.

A wooden trellis with light shinig through.

Infographic of the threat of terrorism at level two elevated.

Some 350 individuals are identified targets of counterterrorism operations in Finland. The list of target individuals is not permanent, with people continually added and removed on the basis of ongoing evaluation work.

A heightened threat of far-right terrorism is also evident among the targeted individuals.

Some far-right violent terrorist projects have come to light in Finland

Lone individuals and small groups pose the most significant threat of far-right terrorism in Finland.

The threat of violence particularly targets representatives of ethnic and religious minority groups and political actors who are perceived as ideological opponents. Other parties viewed as enemies in far-right ideology are also potential targets.

Far-right terrorists have favoured the use of firearms in their attacks, but explosives have also been used.

Racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia are typical factors highlighted in far-right ideology internationally. Inspiration from previous attacks, the impression of a threat to the white population and idealising of terrorism online are also characteristic features. The far right in Finland also shares such views.

The first terrorist convictions related to far-right ideology were handed down in Finland in 2023 when the District Court of Päijänne-Tavastia sentenced three men to imprisonment at the end of October for offences committed with terrorist intent. The Deputy Prosecutor General brought charges in January 2024 in the case of a small far-right group that had operated in Kankaanpää. Two of the six defendants were charged with a terrorist offence.

Supo has identified some individual right-wing extremists who left Finland for the Ukrainian war zone. Some of them have returned to Finland. Participation in a conflict zone will also increase the likelihood of radicalisation of people in Finland.

Even though supporters of the ideology also meet in person, networking on social media platforms, disseminating propaganda and promoting violence remain integral to the activities of the far right in Finland. People who may carry out violent activities or incite individual actors and small groups to violence are particularly linked to the operating context known as Siege culture.

The number of combat sports clubs associated with far-right ideology increased in Finland last year. The communications of these clubs is aimed at a wider audience than merely individuals with a far-right mentality.

While organised far-right movements do not currently pose a terrorist threat, they establish a potential breeding ground for radicalising individuals.

The threat of radical Islamist terrorism remains unchanged in Finland

The most significant threat of radical Islamist terrorism is posed by ideologically inspired and radicalised individuals and small groups. The most likely approach to mounting a terrorist attack linked to radical Islamist ideology will be a simple one, and will target the civilian population or authorities in public places.

Acts or incidents that are perceived as offensive or hostile to Islam, such as burning the Quran or military action taken against terrorist organisations in a conflict zone, are likely to increase the threat of a terrorist attack in the short term.

A conviction for training to commit a terrorist offence was handed down for the first time in Finland in April 2023 when the District Court of Helsinki sentenced a Spanish citizen who had lived in Finland to a suspended term of four months’ imprisonment. The individual was deported from Finland in August 2023.

The principal measures taken in Finland to support radical Islamism concern the transfer of funds and the spread of ideology online. Encrypted instant messaging applications and chat groups are the main vehicles for disseminating and consuming propaganda.Individuals radicalised online may follow the propaganda of several radical Islamist terrorist organisations, with no clear allegiance to any particular one of them.

The threat of a terrorist attack in Europe motivated by radical Islamism has intensified over the past year. The key factors behind this increase are desecrations of the Quran in Europe and the conflict between Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas arising from the attack carried out by the latter in October 2023. Individuals or parties representing other religions or sexual minorities are also targeted in propaganda.

The growing threat elsewhere in Europe has not significantly affected the threat level in Finland.

The foreign fighter phenomenon continues to affect radical Islamist operating conditions, both in Finland and in Europe. Nobody arrived in Finland from the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq in 2023. Some individual supporters of radical Islamism with links to Finland are still living in these zones.

It is unlikely that networks of those who have returned from conflict zones or individual returnees will be inspired to engage in terrorist operations in Finland in the short term.

Radical Islamist terrorism globally is mainly concentrated in unstable regions, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the Sahel. Terrorist organisations operating in conflict zones also seek to mount attacks in Western countries. The importance of especially sub-Saharan Africa as an operating zone for al-Qaeda and ISIL has been growing rapidly. Violent terrorist activity by ISIL also increased last year in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq.

The conflict between the terrorist organisation Hamas and Israel has also activated other radical Islamist actors operating in the Middle East.

The threat of other terrorism is low

The threat of terrorism posed by the far left in Finland is low, with its operations in Finland mainly focusing on anti-fascist activism and support for the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Far-left activities in Finland are mainly non-violent, while operations that support violence are primarily directed outside of Finland.

The threat of terrorism from the PKK in Finland remains low. The PKK and its supporters focus in Finland on fundraising and influencing. PKK operations in the Middle East are aimed at Turkey and Turkish targets.

Assessment of short-term trends in the terrorism outlook for Finland

The threat of terrorism will probably remain at level two (elevated) on the four-point scale. The most likely threat of a terrorist attack in Finland comes from lone operators or small groups advocating far-right or radical Islamist ideology. People with a previous background of violence will probably have the most significant capacity for violence.

The online environment enables adoption of ideas from many directions, and does not require commitment to the activities of a single organisation. Radicalisation in Finland will probably also increasingly affect minors in the short term.