If the European Union cannot control its external border and deport those not eligible to remain then the principle of free movement of people must be scrapped, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Tuesday.
Responding to the murder of two Swedish nationals who were shot dead in an Islamist terror attack in central Brussels on Monday evening, Kristersson expressed his anger that the perpetrator had been free to roam Europe when he was known to have been radicalized.
“It was not okay that the perpetrator was at large even though they knew he had been radicalized,” told a press conference in Stockholm.
The terrorist, named as 45-year-old Tunisian migrant Abdesalem Lassoued, had been refused asylum in Belgium back in 2020 but had remained living in the de facto EU capital with no efforts made to deport him.
Local media reported on Tuesday that he had been known to security services as a radicalization threat, had been convicted of terror offenses back in Tunisia, and was known to Belgian police after recently making threats to a resident of an asylum center in Brussels.
“Europe’s borders must be protected,” Kristersson told journalists. “If we don’t have control over Europe’s borders, if you can get into Europe and get between borders, then the situation is dangerous.
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“Without control at Europe’s external border, we cannot have free movement in Europe,” he warned.
Kristersson added that the events in Brussels on Monday evening were the “most clearly shining signal” of the European Union’s continued failure to control its borders.
The Swedish prime minister also revealed that intelligence showed the attack had been intentionally “aimed at Sweden and Swedes,” and that the attacker had visited Sweden before.
“He has occasionally stayed in Sweden,” Kristersson said but confirmed that he was not known to Swedish police for any offenses committed during his time in the country.
“This is a time for more security, more caution, more vigilance. We simply must not be naive,” added the Swedish leader, whose country raised its terror alert to the second highest level back in August following outrage across the Islamic world at a series of public Quran burnings in the country.
Kristersson, however, insisted that Swedes would not be cowed and would not accept a Europe where Swedish nationals need to hide their true identities.
“I don’t want Swedes to go around hiding that they are Swedes. We can’t have it that way,” he added.