An Up-Close Look at Explosions in Sweden

Over at NRO, Douglas Murray calls our attention to a recent bombing in Malmö, Sweden, which was presumably the work of immigrant criminal gangs. Murray says that although Donald Trump was technically wrong when he suddenly blathered about “what’s happening last night in Sweden” back in 2017—as it turned out, nothing had happened—the press has been culpable in pretending that nothing is happening in Sweden:

In their desire to lampoon Trump they ended up colluding in a falsehood. Just how false can once again be seen from the most recent work from Paulina Neuding, one of the most indispensable journalists not just in Europe but anywhere else….As Neuding reports, in just 24 hours, there were three explosions in the city of Malmo, in southern Sweden. This included a bomb which ripped through two apartment buildings on Friday evening. The scale of this assault (which is mostly the result of violence between foreign-born gangs) is such that Neuding says that it is time for Swedes to admit that they have a national emergency on their hands.

That got me curious, so I decided to check out the official Swedish crime statistics. The Swedes, it turns out, keep track of crime at a remarkably granular level. For example, not only is “crimes against creditors” a category by itself, but it’s then broken up into five separate subcategories: dishonesty to creditors, hindering the seizure of property, careless disregard of creditors, favoritism to creditors, and bookkeeping crimes. What this means is that not only do they track “crimes against the public,” but one of the subcategories is specifically destruction causing public endangerment by means of explosion. Impressive! Anyway, here it is for 2018:

Sadly, I couldn’t find the 2017 statistics for comparison, but the key thing to notice is the scale of the vertical axis. That’s not in thousands or hundreds. That’s the total number. Here is Neuding’s chart of hand grenade explosions:

Neuding’s number for 2018 suggests about one or two detonated hand grenades per month. If the entire chart is right, there’s clearly been a long-term increase in hand-grenade explosions, but it peaked in 2016 and has been declining ever since. In particular, Malmö, which is supposed to be ground zero for this stuff, had zero explosions in 2018.

The explosions are mostly the work of immigrant gangs fighting turf wars over their smuggling operations, but that doesn’t seem to have increased much either. Here are the stats for smuggling by organized crime groups:

Add to this the fact that overall crime levels have been flat for the past decade, and it doesn’t especially look like immigrant gang crime is skyrocketing. It’s a problem, obviously, and there’s no reason Sweden should put up with criminal explosions from immigrant gangs or anyone else, but it doesn’t appear to be a sudden crisis. Maybe there’s more to it, but whatever it is, it’s not obvious from the Swedish crime statistics.

UPDATE: Some of the text originally misstated the numbers in the charts. It’s been corrected.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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