Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Sweden to get Europe’s biggest car battery factory

October 19, 2017


© AFP | A Swedish start-up joins the race to supply electric cars with batteries
STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Start-up company Northvolt said Thursday it had picked its home country Sweden to build Europe’s biggest factory for electric car batteries, rivalling Tesla’s American “Gigafactory”.

The company said it had selected Skelleftea, a coastal town in the country’s industrial north-east, for the site which will employ up to 2,500 people.

Sweden’s main nickel, cobalt, lithium and graphite deposits are nearby.

An associated research centre employing 300 to 400 people will be located in Vasteras, some 150 kilometres west of Stockholm and the original headquarters of Swedish-Swiss ABB, which has partnered up with Northvolt for the project.

“Europe is rapidly moving towards electrification,” said Peter Carlsson, Northvolt’s founder and CEO.

“Sweden has a unique position to establish large-scale battery production to support this transition with its clean and affordable energy, proximity to raw materials, and a strong industrial tradition deep in its DNA,” he said.

Sweden’s economy minister Mikael Damberg said it was “a great day, not just for the two chosen cities but also for Sweden and for Europe”.

Construction of the factory is to start in the second half of 2018, and it is expected to raise production progressively between 2020 and 2023. Once fully operational, the site is to produce lithium-ion batteries totalling 32 Gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.

The project requires an investment of four billion euros ($4.7 billion) over six years for which financing is already covered.

The factory comes in response to Tesla founder Elon Musk’s “Gigafactory” in the US state of Nevada where production debuted in January and which Tesla hopes to eventually ramp up to 150 GWhs.

In addition, Tesla is mulling plans for another such factory, this time in Europe, with several countries happy to have it, including Sweden and France.

Northvolt’s factory will be aimed not only at electric cars and other vehicles, but also at renewable energy producers looking for electricity storage, as well as industrial companies.


Expect Israel To Feel Threatened By Austria’s New Far Right Leaders

October 17, 2017
 OCTOBER 17, 2017 05:20

Jerusalem will have to tread carefully as it calculates its reaction to the rise of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which holds views that are not supportive of the Jewish state.

Norbert Hofer (L) and Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) top candidate Heinz-Christian Strache attend the

Norbert Hofer (L) and Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) top candidate Heinz-Christian Strache attend their party’s final election campaign rally in Vienna, Austria, October 13, 2017. . (photo credit:MICHAEL DALDER/REUTERS)

Israel has not yet reacted to Sunday’s elections in Austria that will likely catapult the far-right Freedom Party into the government, but this outcome poses a clear challenge to Jerusalem: Should it engage with European far-right parties if they become a part of a government? Jerusalem has avoided having to face the issue this year, thanks to the National Front’s loss in the French elections and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position of not including the AfD in her governing coalition.

Austria’s Freedom Party, however, will bring the issue to the fore.

Under Jorg Haider in 1999, Austria’s Freedom Party – a party formed in 1956 by former members of the Nazi party – became part of the Austrian ruling coalition. Israel responded by recalling its ambassador and downgrading its relations with Vienna for more than three years, until the coalition fell apart.

But that was then.

In 1999 Israel could boycott Austria’s government because there was little chance that by doing so it would lead to a need to boycott other governments joined by right-wing parties – because that prospect seemed remote. But that is no longer the case, as the European far-Right is on the rise.

In other words, it is one thing not to engage or to boycott parties in the opposition; it is quite another if those parties may soon be ruling various countries.

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Israel’s unstated but clear policy up until now has been to break up the European far-right parties into three distinct categories.

The first are the fascist and neo-Nazi parties, such as Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, and the NDP in Germany. These are parties with which Israel will not engage, even if they become members of the ruling governments.

The second category includes parties – like Austria’s Freedom Party – that have a Nazi or fascist past, and which currently have antisemitic and racist tendencies. Other parties in this category include the National Front in France, AfD in Germany – which did surprisingly well in that country’s elections last month – and the Swedish Democrats in Sweden.

Up until now, Israel’s formal policy has been to avoid contact with those parties and not to engage with them or their members at a diplomatic level. This means that neither the prime minister nor the foreign minister meet their leaders if they visit Israel, and that Israel’s ambassadors in those countries do not meet with the party heads.

At the same time, Jerusalem cannot do anything about errant ministers, MKs or politicians who do meet with members of these parties from time to time, as was the case when the Freedom Party’s leader Heinz-Christian Strache visited Israel last year.

In the third category are populist parties with some racist elements in them, such as Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, UKIP in Britain and the Vlaams Belang Party in Belgium. These parties, which are different from one another, do not have Nazi or fascist pasts. Israel’s policy toward them is generally not to boycott but, rather, to deal with each party according to the particular situation and each party’s merits.

For instance, Israel does engage with Wilders’s party, and has normal relations with UKIP.

This set of policies has emerged over the years amid a sense in Jerusalem that Israel – as the state of the Jewish people – has a unique standing on these matters, and that its position on these parties is carefully watched by many inside Europe. For example, that Strache has made efforts to distance himself from his party’s past and put forward strong pro-Israel positions has been interpreted in Jerusalem as an effort to get Israel’s “stamp of approval,” something that would help him gain legitimacy elsewhere.

Another element that has guided Israel in its policies toward these parties has been the position of the local Jewish communities, and these Jewish communities have – in all cases of those parties in the second category – come out against Israel engaging with them.

Jerusalem is not expected to comment on the Austrian elections until after a coalition is formed, and even then, it is unlikely to be among the first to comment or formulate a policy.

Rather, it will likely wait to see how countries like Germany, France and Britain respond.

Ironically, the candidate who won Austria’s election, 31-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, is considered in Jerusalem as pro-Israel. Jerusalem has no problem with him, but, rather, only with his potential coalition partner.

Even so, there are three reasons that Jerusalem is unlikely to boycott the Austrian government, as it did when the Freedom Party was a member from 1999 to 2003.

Firstly, the success of parties like the Freedom Party is a phenomenon increasingly evident throughout the European political system. Secondly, because Strache, as opposed to Haider, has professed pro-Israel positions.

And thirdly, because the party has – at least to a certain degree – tried to moderate itself.


Neo-Nazis and anti-fascists clash in Sweden on Yom Kippur

October 1, 2017

More than a dozen people were arrested in Sweden’s second largest city as the Nordic Resistance Movement, an openly anti-Semitic group, marched on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Neo-Nazis wielding transparent shields and their green and white flags clash with police in Goteborg, Sweden.

Swedish police arrested more than 20 people Saturday as they tried to keep neo-Nazis and anti-fascists from clashing in Sweden’s second largest city.

The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), a right-wing extremist group that is openly anti-Semitic, received permission from police to hold their rally on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

The NMR originally sought to march past a Jewish synagogue but a court rejected their proposed route, and shortened it to little more than half a mile (1 kilometer).

About 600 people wore all-black outfits as they marched in formation. Some waved the movement’s green and white flag, and some wore helmets and carried shields, as they went through Goteborg about 250 miles southwest of the capital Stockholm.

Authorities posted fliers ahead of the rally warning demonstrators against behaving like German Nazi’s “National Socialist demonstrations in the 1930s and 1940s.”

The end time for the march was also scaled back by one hour to prevent potential clashes with attendees of a nearby football game.

Neo-Nazis and anti-fascists

Anti-fascists, the counter-demonstrators, tossed fireworks and made several attempts to break through police lines in an apparent effort to confront NMR members who also tried to get past riot police. Some were arrested and charged with rioting, according to police.

Among those arrested was one person accused of kicking a policeman in the face and two others who were detained for carrying knives.

“Stones, bottles and sticks were also thrown at us,” police spokesman Hans Lippens said.

Neo-Nazis march in Goteborg, Sweden prepared for a fight, brandishing shields as they face-off with policeNeo-Nazis wielding transparent shields and their green and white flags clash with police

Riot police eventually encircled the NMR in a city square, preventing them from finishing their march. Officials said the police action was intended to keep the neo-Nazis and anti-fascists from a direct clash. The number of anti-fascist protesters was not immediately clear, but pre-march estimates indicated they could outnumber their neo-Nazi counterparts by as much as 10-1.

The NMR subsequently demanded that their leader Simon Lindberg be released from police custody before they would leave the square.

Read more: Auschwitz theft linked to Swedish neo-Nazis

About 20 people, mainly from Denmark and Germany, were detained as they arrived in Sweden ahead of the rally.

Law enforcement officials anticipated violence and called in police reinforcements from across Sweden before the protest. They alsoconverted a police garage into a temporary detention center, and added 350 beds.

Read more: German firm wins trademark lawsuit against Swedish neo-nazis

Goteborg was rocked by violent protests during a European Union summit in 2001.

bik/jlw (AP, Reuters)

Dozens Arrested in Sweden as Neo-Nazis, Anti-Fascists Clash With Tear-Gas Shooting Police

October 1, 2017

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — More than 30 people were arrested on Saturday as both neo-Nazis and anti-fascists clashed with police during a march by the extreme right-wing Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, police said.

The NMR gathered hundreds of people for the march, many armed with shields and helmets, while many thousands of counter-protestors also hit the streets of Gothenburg.

Police had prepared for violence to break out and had called in reinforcements from all police districts in Sweden and added 350 temporary jail beds in a police garage.

Membership in Nazi organisations is not illegal in Sweden and the NMR had a permit from the police to march.

Swedish police said on their website that 35 people had been arrested during the day. At least two people were injured, including one police officer who broke his arm.

“Given the intent that many had here today, the scenario could have been much worse,” commanding officer Emilie Kullmyr told daily Dagens Nyheter.

The neo-Nazi march was halted in the early afternoon, before it reached its designated starting point, after a clash with the police. Police put up a ring around the NMR demonstrators to keep them apart from anti-fascists.

The neo-Nazis clashed with police several times and during speeches they singled out politicians and the media as responsible for high levels of immigration in Sweden.

At 1600 GMT the neo-Nazi demonstrators had been escorted by police to their initial meeting point in the outskirts of Gothenburg. The many cordons in the central city were lifted.

Sweden has taken in more immigrants per capita than any other EU-country in recent years, much to the dismay of right-wing groups.

The extreme-right groups have become more active in Sweden, according to police. Three former members of the NMR were convicted earlier this year of a series of bombings targeting immigrants and political opponents.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Johannes Hellström; Editing by Stephen Powell)



A neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) demonstration in central Gothenburg has ended, two hours after police permission for the march expired.

The neo-Nazi group was forced to bring its march through Gothenburg to a premature end but has reportedly threatened new demonstrations – possibly without police permission.

A huge effort by police was successful in keeping the NRM and counter protestors separated, although two people are reported injured and 60 detained by police as a result of the day’s events.

Several hundred NRM supporters began the march along the route for which authorities issued permission, but several protestors tried to break out of the designated area near the Ica Focus shopping mall and Svenska Mässan conference centre, which was hosting a Book Fair on Saturday.

Several of the protestors who tried to break through police lines were arrested, including NMR leader Simon Lindberg, reports TT.

Two hours after the demonstration was scheduled to disperse, the NMR, waving banners and surrounded by police, left the area near the Ica Focus shopping mall and Svenska Mässan conference centre in central Gothenburg.

The group returned to the starting point of the march, according to the report.

Road blocks in the city have since been lifted.

The neo-Nazi organisation’s spokesperson Pär Öberg said in the group’s own online broadcast of the demonstration that he regretted that the demonstration could not be completed.

Öberg said that he expected “this will be the last time [NMR] will ask for permission” to demonstrate.

NMR protestors clashed violently with police during the demonstration, shouting slogans such as “race traitor” (folkförrädare) and “Nordic revolution, no pardon” (nordisk revolution, utan pardon).

Police clash with NMR demonstrators. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

NMR demonstrators also attacked a group of journalists, forcing them towards a line of empty police busses, according to a report by newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

At least two people have been injured as result of the day’s unrest.

The number of counter demonstrators far outweighed the amount of NMR supporters, and violent elements of these attacked police on several occasions, including by throwing stones, reports TT.

Counter-protestors rushed at police near the Liseberg Amusement Park, with horses deployed to keep them under control. According to a statement on the police website, stones were thrown during that flashpoint with a number of people held by police near the main entrance to the amusement park.

“In connection with the disturbances at Liseberg, where we moved away counter-demonstrators, stones were thrown, resulting in injury to one civilian. The person was hit by an object and has been taken to hospital by ambulance,” police press spokesperson Peter Adlersson said.

Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

A police officer was also taken to hospital with minor injuries earlier in the day.

NMR leader Simon Lindberg has been arrested on suspicion of assault, reports newspaper Expressen.

“Simon Lindberg participated at the beginning of the unrest and is suspected of violent unrest and assaulting a police officer,” police press spokesperson Hans Lippens told the newspaper.

Several people, including foreign citizens, were detained prior to the demonstration by police in Gothenburg and other parts of Sweden on suspicion of intending to carry out assault.

Swedish police make arrests prior to Nazi demonstration

September 30, 2017


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Riot police in Gothenburg. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT
Three people have been arrested and several others detained by police in Gothenburg prior to a neo-Nazi demonstration in the city Saturday.

Two foreign citizens were arrested at Gothenburg’s Landvetter Airport on Friday night after knives were found in their luggage. The two were arrested on suspicion of planning assault, the Swedish police confirmed in a message posted on its website.

A further seven foreign nationals have been taken into custody and a third person was arrested at Gothenburg Central Station, also on suspicion of planning violent acts, reports news agency TT.

Police have also taken action in other parts of Sweden in connection with the demonstration due to be held by the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) in Gothenburg on Saturday.

In Helsingborg, a foreign citizen was arrested on board a bus after hitting a policeman in the face.

Nine foreign nationals have been detained and one ejected from the country under Sweden’s Foreign Citizens Law (Utlänningslagen) provision for foreign nationals, according to the report.

Gothenburg city centre is expected to be particularly busy on Saturday due to several other events taking place, including the annual Book Fair and a football match, and its timing as the first Saturday after pay day.

The march also coincides with the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur – a day of atonement observed by fasting and praying – and the route was initially planned to pass close to a Gothenburg synagogue.

However, earlier this week a local court changed the route, cutting its total length by almost half, citing risks to public order and security. Marchers will no longer be allowed to pass by the synagogue or to gather outside the location of the Book Fair.

The route of the march (red) and the route prior to the court ruling which forced it to be shortened (dotted). Graphic: TT

Police in Gothenburg were on Saturday morning present at the designated meeting point of the NMR prior to its planned march, reports TT.

Several other locations in the city are already under police surveillance and roadblocks have been put in place, according to the report.

Some businesses on the march route have chosen to board up windows prior to the demonstration. Photo: Jonas Dagson/TT

The NMR, set up in 1997, promotes an openly racist and anti-Semitic doctrine, and its growing popularity in Sweden has caused concern in neighbouring Norway.

Earlier in the month, about 50 members of extremist group marched through the centre of Gothenburg, an event for which the group did not have a permit. According to media reports, a minor fight broke out between some of the protesters and a counter-demonstrator, but police quickly intervened and did not make any arrests.

READ ALSO: Why 2016 saw a surge of neo-Nazi activity in Sweden

Sweden Investigates Mosque Fire as Arson

September 26, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Swedish police say a fire that partly destroyed a mosque west of Stockholm is being investigated as arson.

Police said firefighters worked overnight to extinguish the fire that started early Tuesday in Orebro, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Stockholm. No one was injured in the blaze.

Mosque spokesman Jamal Lamhamdi told local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda that it was “a sad day for Muslims in Orebro and in Sweden.”

As asylum-seekers have flooded into Sweden in recent years, anti-migrant sentiment has grown and there have been increasing xenophobic attacks. In January, a fire caused major damage at a mosque near Stockholm. In October, a Syrian man was arrested in an arson attack against a Shiite prayer room in the southwestern city of Malmo.


A mosque in the southern Swedish city of Orebro has been completely destroyed in a suspected arson attack, a fire department official said on Tuesday.

Firefighters arrived at the site at 2 a.m. local time (0000GMT) but the mosque was completely gutted, according to Orebro fire chief Ulf Jacobsen.

No one was injured in the blaze, Jacobsen said, adding that evidence pointed to it being an arson attack.

The Orebro mosque — which has a capacity for 250 people — was built in 2007 in the Vivalla neighborhood, home to Muslims from various countries.

The incident came after another suspected arson attack last May partially destroyed a Shia mosque in the Stockholm suburb of Jakobsberg.

An investigation by the Islamic Cooperation Council in Sweden revealed in 2015 that seven out of 10 mosques in the country had been attacked.

Sweden is a strong draw for many migrants and about 15 percent of its population was born abroad. An estimated 100,000 Turks live in the Nordic country.

Asylum seekers in Europe left waiting, says study — Even after they live through Mediterranean journey

September 21, 2017

By the start of this year, more than half of Europe’s asylum-seeker arrivals over a two-year period had yet to be processed, a study shows. For many, the pace hinged on which nation was handling their applications.

Griechenland Lesbos Ankunft von Flüchtlingen an der Küste (DW/Diego Cupolo)

The Washington-based Pew Research Center said that permits to stay – at least temporarily – had been granted to some 40 percent of the 2.2 million who had arrived in 2015 and 2016.

By the begining of 2017, 52 percent of those who entered in the previous two years were still waiting for decisions. Only three percent had been ejected from the European country in which they had applied for protection.

Afghanistan abgeschobene Asylbewerber kehren zurück (Getty Images/AFP/W. Kohsar)An Afghan deported from Germany arriving in Kabul

Wednesday’s look at past data, based on information from the EU’s statistical agency (Eurostat) and sourced from all 28 EU members plus Switzerland and Norway, found that Germany had been relatively quick in processing applications.

Germany’s adjudication period for applicants from war-torn Syria was about three months. Belgium managed waiting times of only one month. By contrast the average Syrian waiting time in Norway had been more than a year.

Among the 650,000 Syrians who arrived in Europe over the period, only 130,000 had not received decisions by late 2016.

Longest wait for Albanians

Across the EU-plus group as a whole, Germany and Sweden had processed about half of their arrivals. The applicants who were left waiting the longest overall were Albanians.

The variations meant that asylum seekers’ prospects “largely” depended on where their applications were submitted, said Pew, intimating that Europe was far from fulfilling equal protection under UN conventions.

Also left waiting for a long time were applicants from Afghanistan and Iraq, despite conflicts in both those countries.

By late 2016, 77 percent of Afghans were waiting for first-time or final decisions on appeal; likewise 66 percent from Iraq and 77 percent from Iran.

Also left waiting were people from Kosovo (77 percent), Serbia (74 percent) Russia (72 percent), Pakistan (67 percent), Somalia (56 percent) and Nigeria (55 percent).

Half arrived in Germany

Of the 2.2 million, Germany received 1,090,000 applicants over the two years, Pew concluded. By late 2016, 49 percent of its intake was waiting for decisions.

Other nations with better than average decision rates were Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, Pew said.

Hungary, whose government remains anti-immigrant, had the worst rate, with 94 percent of its 70,000 applicants still awaiting asylum rulings by late 2016.

Serbien Kelebija Fotoreportage Diego Cupolo an ungarischer Grenze (DW/D. Cupolo)Languishing on the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2016

ipj/rc (AP, KNA)

EU Migration Chief Favors Ending Internal Border Checks — Refugee emergency is abating — Systematic ID checks are banned

September 14, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official said Thursday that extraordinary border controls inside Europe’s passport-free travel area should not be extended because the refugee emergency is abating.

The EU has allowed Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU country Norway to prolong ID checks at their borders. These countries say the checks are needed for security reasons, and the controls have become an issue in the German election campaign.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that while the checks were justified, the reasons for them to be introduced “are not there anymore.”

He said: “I believe it is the moment to go back to the normal function of Schengen,” as Europe’s passport-free travel area is known.

Systematic ID checks are banned in the 26-nation Schengen zone. The countries introduced the measures in 2016 after around a million migrants entered Europe the previous year.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is keen to have the police checks continue, and the issue has become a focus of campaigning ahead of Germany’s Sept. 24 elections.

In an interview earlier this month, Merkel said she’s confident the EU’s executive Commission has “an open ear for our arguments” to extend the controls beyond their Nov. 11 expiry date.

The controls began in Germany amid an influx of asylum-seekers that critics partly blame on the chancellor’s welcoming approach to refugees.

The European Commission, which polices EU laws, has allowed Germany and its four near neighbors in northern Europe to continue the measures twice since May 2016. But under EU rules, the measures cannot be extended anymore.

Avramopoulos said the EU’s migrant deal with Turkey is working well, with migrant flows from the country to the Greek islands down by 81 percent last month, compared with August 2016.

“During the last two years we have been working in crisis mode, now it’s the moment to step out of the crisis,” he told reporters.

Photographers Respond to Trump’s Comments on Sweden — Protecting The Image, Ignoring Many of the Facts

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s leading photographers are launching a new exhibit and publishing a book in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of the country’s immigration policy.

During a rally in Florida in February, Trump said that terrorism was growing in Europe, and “look what’s happening last night in Sweden.” But the comment baffled many Swedes because there had been no extraordinary trouble that night in Sweden, a country welcoming to immigrants.

Publisher Max Strom commissioned “Last night in Sweden” in an effort to present a more diverse and multi-faceted portrait of Sweden.

Photographer and publisher Jeppe Wikstrom told The Associated Press before the exhibit’s opening that “we felt we had to react because we didn’t recognize Sweden at all in his words.”

The crowdfunded book hits the shelves Tuesday.


Man shot after attacking soldiers in Brussels

August 25, 2017


© Laurie Dieffembacq/Belga/AFP | Policemen stand guard the Boulevard Emile Jacqmain in the city centre of Brussels on August 25.


Latest update : 2017-08-25

A man was shot in the centre of Brussels on Friday evening after he attacked two soldiers, prosecutors said, adding that the man was in critical condition.

“With the identity that we currently have, [the suspect] is a 30-year-old man who is not known for terrorist activities,” a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said.

The soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack, one in the face and the other in the hand.

The crisis center said in a tweet late Friday that the situation “is under control”.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel also tweeted that “all our support is with our soldiers. Our security services remain on alert. We are following the situation closely.”

Tout notre soutien à nos militaires. Nos services de sécurité restent attentifs. Nous suivons la situation de près avec @crisiscenterBe

In June, Belgian troops shot dead a suspected suicide bomber at Brussels’ main train station. The man was later identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The Belgian capital – home to the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union – has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State group cell organised an attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Four months later, associates of those attackers killed 32 people in Brussels.

>> Read more: The Brussels bombers and their links to the Paris attacks

Attacks in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden have been carried out in the name of the Islamist group by other young men, many of them locals.

“Such isolated acts will continue in Brussels, in Paris and elsewhere. It’s inevitable,” Brussels security consultant Claude Moniquet, a former French agent, told broadcaster RTL shortly after the thwarted attack at Brussels central station.

With the Islamic State group under pressure in Syria – with Belgium being the most fertile European recruiting ground for foreign Islamist fighters – he said attacks in Europe may increase, though many of these would be by “amateurs” who would not manage to commit large acts of terror.