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Swedish, Norwegian police arrest 6 in anti-terror raids
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    STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Swedish and Norwegian authorities cracked down on terror financing on Thursday, arresting six people and seizing computer equipment from Internet cafes in coordinated raids in Stockholm and Oslo.
    Three men arrested early Thursday in the Swedish capital were suspected of funneling money to terror organizations in Somalia, Prosecutor Ronnie Jacobsson told The Associated Press.
    The men — all Swedish citizens — also faced suspicions of preparing terrorist acts, which Jacobsson said ‘‘could consist of financially promoting a terror crime.’’
    Just minutes before the Swedish operation was announced, Norway’s police intelligence agency PST said it had arrested three people in separate locations in Oslo on suspicion of financing terror.
    Investigators would not say how the funds were sent, but PST spokesman Martin Bernsen said it could not be ruled out that informal money transfer networks called hawalas had been used.
    The paperless system, based on trust and oral agreements, is commonly used in the Middle East, parts of Asia and Africa.
    PST did not reveal the nationalities of the suspects. The newspaper VG reported on its Web site that they were Somali immigrants, but did not cite its sources.
    Norwegian police seized computer equipment later Thursday in raids of Oslo Internet cafes. Bernsen said the raids were linked to the arrests.
    ‘‘Our action was coordinated with the Swedish security police. One or more of the three suspects will appear before a court Friday or Saturday,’’ Bernsen said.
    In Sweden, a lawyer for one of the suspects said he denied any wrongdoing. The 42-year-old suspect previously was the focus of a police investigation involving threats to an artist who had depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.
    Police had found a map of the area where the artist, Lars Vilks, lived. Vilks was placed under police protection last year. However, Jacobsson said Thursday’s investigation was not connected to Vilks.
    Another suspect, a 39-year-old man, also claims innocence, his lawyer Tobias Falth said. ‘‘He emphatically denies having committed any crime.’’
    Both Norway and Sweden have been spared violent terror acts, but authorities in both countries have voiced concern about terrorists or terror financiers operating out of Scandinavia.
    In 2005, two Iraqis were sentenced to prison in Sweden for collecting and transferring money to terrorists Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.
    Sweden’s security police SAPO wrote in a November report that ‘‘similar activities are still being conducted in Sweden.’’
    SAPO spokesman Jakob Larsson told the AP that the risk of terror attacks in Sweden remains low. ‘‘However, we have said that there could be people here who sympathize with and support terrorist organizations in other countries.’’
    In a report earlier this month, Norway’s PST said that ‘‘support operations in Norway are primarily in the form of money transfers to people or groups abroad that are believed to be connected to extreme Islamist organizations.’’
    It also said that violence by Islamic extremists will pose a significant challenge to Norwegian security in coming years, partly because of the Nordic nation’s participation in NATO-led peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.
    Norway closed its embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Feb. 10 after being alerted to a terrorism plot. The embassy reopened Wednesday.
    The threat followed a Jan. 15 attack by militants on a Kabul hotel in which a reporter for the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet was killed. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere also was there but wlater said he did not think he was the target.
    Associated Press writers Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm and Bjoern H. Amland in Oslo, Norway, contributed to this report.

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