Five men have been detained for allegedly having planned gun and bomb attacks in what the Finnish police believe is the first case of far-right terrorism in the country’s history.
The members of the group, which operated in the southwestern town of Kankaanpää, were arrested on Tuesday, having been under surveillance for two years. On Friday, the court ruled that they should remain in custody.
The suspects are aged “around 25,” and most of them have a previous criminal record, the police said in a statement. Weapons, ammunition, and fertilizer – which can be used to make explosives – were seized in the raid during which they were detained.
Extremist materials found among the men’s possessions, and other material unearthed in the course of the investigation “reinforce the impression that they have become radicalized and gives reason to suspect them of terrorist offences,” the statement read.
The group appears to have been motivated by “accelerationism” – a white supremacist ideology that rests on the idea that Western governments are irreparably corrupt and seeks to hasten their demise by sowing division and interracial strife. The ideology has been linked to several high-profile shootings in the US as well as to the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand in 2019.
The police didn’t reveal the targets the men had planned to attack, but said they had operated independently of any large far-right organization. They are currently being investigated for involvement in terrorism, the illegal possession of firearms, and aggravated theft.
The prosecutors have given the police until March 31 next year to press charges.
Detective Superintendent Toni Sjoblom described the case as “worrying” and urged the Finnish public to help his officers counter the far-right threat.
“If you see clear signs of radicalization in your loved ones, you should react as quickly as possible, for example, by telling the authorities about your concerns,” he said.