The fight against terrorism is spearheaded by cooperation between authorities

There is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Terrorism generally involves the use or threat of violence in order to achieve certain goals and cause unrest or fear. As a phenomenon, terrorism is defined as action which involves the violation of national or international law, or violence or the threat of violence, with the aim of causing unrest and fear.

The focus of counter-terrorism is on preventive measures, the success of which depends on broad-based cooperation between different stakeholders. Besides cooperation between authorities, third sector involvement is also needed.

With respect to counter-terrorism, Finland’s operating environment is changing rapidly and the threat posed by terrorism has become more varied. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service issued a new terrorist threat assessment in June 2017. At the same time, a new four-tier scale was introduced to describe the threat level. The levels used by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service are low, elevated, high and severe. The terrorist threat in Finland is at the level elevated.

The terrorist threat has increased as Finland has been mentioned more often in the radical Islamist propaganda and counter-terrorism target individuals have had stronger links with terrorist activities. The most significant terrorist threat in Finland is still posed by individual actors or small groups motivated by radical Islamist propaganda or terrorist organisations encouraging them.

Intelligence in a key role

The aim of counter-terrorism is to identify and counter threats to Finland before they are realised. The Government has laid down guidelines and called for the further development of counter-terrorism. In addition, the European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the related Action Plan set out ways of strengthening international cooperation and list the measures required to combat terrorism.

In counter-terrorism activities, intelligence work and cooperation play significant roles at both national and international level. In Finland, the main responsibility for the monitoring and analysis of terrorism-related phenomena lies with the Finnish Security Intelligence Service.

The Ministry of the Interior has prepared civilian intelligence legislation, which entered into force on 1 June 2019. The Act grants to the Finnish Security Intelligence Service additional powers for combating terrorism, for instance.

The National Bureau of Investigation is responsible for the criminal investigation of terrorism offences

The Police Act, the Criminal Investigation Act and the Coercive Measures Act all govern the detection and investigation of terrorist offences. In Finland, responsibility for the criminal investigation of terrorist offences rests with the National Bureau of Investigation. Other authorities may also participate in criminal investigations, providing assistance to the police unit conducting the investigation in question.