Current demographic trends suggest that by 2020, ten percent of the overall European population will be Muslim. Although pluralism is by no means an impossibility, a large Muslim presence in Europe is not entirely unproblematic. Islamic radicals are today present in every West European country with a substantial Muslim minority. Up until 11 September 2001, these Jihadists operated in relatively interrelated network structures. The Jihadist movement is, however, currently undergoing a phase of decentralization resulting in a new form of homegrown terrorism. These terrorist cells consists predominantly of second and third generation Muslim immigrants, who inspired by Jihadist ideology are operating independently of traditional organizational structures.

The decentralization trend of terrorist networks is clearly evident in Scandinavia – a region often neglected in the global struggle against radical Islamism. Scandinavian Security Police agencies have long warned against radical tendencies in certain Scandinavian mosques (such as the Brandbergen Mosque in Stockholm and Taiba in Denmark) and among Muslim preachers (such as Mulla Krekar in Norway). Although no serious terror incident has yet been recorded in Denmark, Norway or Sweden, a number of plots by indigenous terrorist operatives to carry out attacks have recently been unraveled in Scandinavia. For instance, in September 2006, five men were sentenced to jail for planning a serious terror attack using explosives in Denmark. In October 2006, four men were charged with shooting at Oslo's synagogue and also for planning acts of terrorism against the US and Israeli embassies. And in Sweden, three were in May 2006, charged with planning an attack against the pro-Israeli Word of Life (Livets Ord) evangelical church in Uppsala.

When accounting for why the small prosperous and traditionally peaceful Nordic countries have become so susceptible to this new type of homegrown terrorism in the post-9/11 security climate, three general patterns stand out. First, Denmark, Norway and Sweden all have considerable Muslim minorities. Large-scale immigration begun after the Second World War when the Nordic countries opened up their borders for labor immigrants from southern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey. During the 1980s and 90’s, a new wave of economic, political and religious refugees arrived from the Middle East (mainly Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and the Palestinian territories) and the horn of Africa. Today there are an estimated 275.000 practicing Muslims in Denmark, 76.000 in Norway and over 300.000 in Sweden.

Furthermore, the often poorly integrated immigrant communities have systematically become dependent on government subsidies as their chief means of income. This has a resulted in a high unemployment level for non-European immigrants. In 2001, persons born outside of Sweden on average received seven times more in social security assistance than Swedish-born nationals. The figures for Denmark and Norway are close to those of Sweden. Whereas the policies of the welfare state in the short term can reduce the economic poverty of low-income takers and thus have a pacifying effect on unassimilated immigrants, the same policies tend, in the long run, to create a dependence on the state which in effect can lead to further alienation from the indigenous society.

Lastly, terrorists and their indigenous sympathizers have been successful in exploiting the benefits of the Scandinavian open liberal democracies with their modern infrastructure offerings. These enlightened and sophisticated systems have enabled substate perpetrators in the name of "higher principles" to engage in propaganda activities, secure safe-havens, raise funds, purchase weapons and provide logistical support to overseas terrorist organizations.

In the wake of September 11, the Scandinavian governments worked hard to address the terrorism threat and the radicalization of its Muslim immigrants. Despite proven progress, more policy and law-making attention are still required in conjunction with stronger efforts to increase the public awareness over the challenge posed by Islamic radicalism. Despite Islamic radicalization being an equally serious threat in Scandinavia as it is in many other European countries, many Scandinavians unfortunately still view their countries as immune.

Terrorism is unlikely to get an easy solution; instead it seems to be the great struggle of the 21st century. In today’s globalized world, no regions can ever be fully isolated from the perils of extremism. When concerned over engaging in this long struggle against radical Islamism, one might bear in mind the inspiring words of the great Swedish statesman and former UN General Secretary, Dag Hammarskjöld, “The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”