On Friday the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) asked police to investigate a threatening message sent to Finns Party MEP Jussi Halla-aho in the name of the self-proclaimed Islamic State organisation, otherwise known as ISIS. The South-western Finland Police Department in Turku has confirmed to Yle that it is probing the matter.
On Wednesday – the day of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris – Halla-aho published on his Facebook page a threatening message that he said he had received by email “a few days earlier”.
"A warning to the Finnish government"
A similar message had been posted in 27 December on the popular chat site Suomi24 under the heading "a warning to the Finnish government".
The writer calls himself “Abu Hurairah Finlandi” and describes himself as a "doulatul islam” (Islamic State) fighter in Iraq. In poor Finnish, he threatens the government and Parliament with violence if Finland decides to join the “coalition against the caliphate”.
He addresses the letter to Seppo Lehto, [Finns Party chair] Timo Soini and Halla-aho, concluding: “You are on the list of the first to be killed when we arrive in Finland."
Lehto, a right-wing blogger who was imprisoned for a string of hate crimes, gained notoriety by making a Nazi salute in Parliament House as a guest of former Finns Party MP James Hirvisaari, who photographed the incident and was then expelled from the party. Halla-aho and Hirvisaari have also been convicted of hate crimes.
On Friday Hirvisaari tweeted Yle’s story, adding the comment: “Those kinds of animals should definitely be slaughtered at the border.”
Social media trail
Following Halla-aho’s Facebook post, Yle has determined that the same email address and name were almost certainly used by a student who disappeared from a university in Pori last autumn.
A member of the young man’s family confirmed that he has used that name. It is also linked to several social media accounts set up by a young man of Pakistani background who was studying business in Finland. The profile also fits that of a 21-year-old man whom local paper Satakunnan Kansa reported in October had left to join ISIS in Syria. His family says that to their knowledge he has not returned to Finland.
“Not worth filing a complaint”
“We began to study this case as soon as we received the information,” Supo Senior Inspector Tuomas Portaankorva told Yle on Thursday. “When we have attained a sufficient understanding of the background of the message and possibly who sent it, we will decide on the next steps accordingly.”
On Friday Supo said it had found sufficient grounds to hand the case over to police to investigate.
Halla-aho told Yle that Supo had previously told him it was “not worth filing a criminal complaint because the sender will never be identified". Portaankorva declined to comment on Halla-aho’s claim, but said that it is in the general interest that this kind of threat be probed.
Supo has not heard of other threats sent to people in Finland in the name of ISIS.
“This is apparently an individual person who has sent this message. It does not yet set up Finland as a target country of a terrorist organisation,” he adds.