The most recent spate of terror attacks to strike Europe, this time in London, has put leaders on edge. Finland is no different, with authorities assuring residents that they are closely monitoring the latest developments. Helsinki-based daily Helsingin Sanomat spoke with terrorism researcher Leena Malkki of Helsinki University, who declared that one thing is certain: there are more extreme Islamist terrorist cells or lone wolves planning attacks in Britain today than there were five years ago.
"Researchers expect that these strikes will become more common in the short term, over the next five years," she cautioned.
HS also interviewed Teemu Tammikko, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, after a suicide bomb attack in Manchester in May. He pointed out that the ongoing conflict in Syria may have woken a new generation of jihadis.
"We can now assume that even if the war in Syria were to end, the fallout would continue for 20 years or so, because a generation has been born and has chosen its path," Tammikko added.
Tabloid daily Ilta-Sanomat’s spread features comments by another FIIA researcher, Olli Ruohomäki, who also offered little consolation following the deadly incident. "It is completely impossible to track and surveil potential terrorists. Of course [officials] try to identify them, but monitoring one potential attacker requires nearly 30 police officers, if you want to keep track of him around the clock," Ruohomäki noted.
Niinistö strikes reassuring note
Against that backdrop, Tampere-based Aamulehti juxtaposes comments by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the Finnish Defence Forces Flag Day parade on Sunday. Niinistö thanked the Defence Forces and the military service system for their role in national defence and keeping the country safe.
"In international studies, Finland is at the top in nearly any comparison and one message is clear: we are the most stable state in the world. That is of great value in the current global situation," Niinistö declared.
He pointed out however, that people will have to contend with global instability for a long time to come. "This means that we also have to take care of our strongest backstop – our credible national defence."
Ministers advised to avoid public transportation
Meanwhile, HS reported Monday that government security watchdogs have warned ministers not to give in to the temptation to move around the city using Helsinki Regional Transport’s trademark yellow city bikes.
According to HS, head of government security Jari Ylitalo admitted to the paper that ministers had been given a "strong recommendation" not to avail themselves of the handy two-wheelers. The recommendation extends to public transportation, such as the metro and trams. Ylitalo said that while the advisory had not been issued in writing, security officials had called on ministers to use official vehicles for security reasons.
Foreign Trade and Development Minister Kai Mykkänen was reportedly one of the ministers who’d hoped to use the bikes to move between the Foreign Ministry in Katajanokka and the Parliament as well as the Office of the Prime Minister off Senate Square. During his time as Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Alexander Stubb was known to frequent his cycle and once infamously turned up for a summer press conference wearing flip-flops and shorts and riding a bike.
Summer arrives -- this week at least
On a lighter, brighter and sunnier note, tabloids Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat splash out on optimistic pieces heralding the advent of real summer this week – complete with daytime highs set to hover around and in some places exceed 20 degrees Celsius over the next few days.
Although the week will begin with unsettled conditions bringing rain through much of the country Monday, conditions will clear up in central and southern areas Tuesday and highs will surge from around 10 degrees Monday to 15 degrees and even 20 degrees in the south.
School kids and families who have begun their summer vacation will at least have a week of good weather. IL consulted the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and found that the absolute threshold for Finnish summer, the Midsummer holiday, is expected to be cooler than usual, as will the final week of the month. It was always too good to last!
Extra reading: Active Finnish community in Somalia
HS’s monthly supplement Kuukausiliite highlights a story about Somali Finns who have returned to their country of origin to help rebuild following recent Parliamentary elections.
According to HS, some 50 former Finnish residents have now resettled in the capital Mogadishu. One of them is Mowlid Hussein Guhad, who left Finland last year to visit relatives, but is now the Deputy Speaker of the recently-elected Parliament.