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Finland: Terror Suspects Have Foreign Backgrounds

HELSINKI-- Two people arrested last week on suspicion of financing terrorism and performing terror recruitment activities have foreign backgrounds and their alleged actions were not aimed at Finland, officials said Saturday.

The detentions are the first terror-linked arrests in the Nordic country, intelligence officials said.

"They are a man and woman," Detective Inspector Kaj-Erik Bjorkvist from the National Bureau of Investigation said. "The actions or activity involved were not aimed at Finland."

Bjorkvist declined to further identify them or provide details except to say that the activities they are suspected of being involved in were related to terrorist groups "far away" from Finland.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service said it began intelligence operations in 2009 that led to their arrests on Sept. 7. Officers confiscated "data and other material" in house searches at several locations in the Helsinki metropolitan area after the arrests, Bjorkvist said.

Finnish Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen, the Nordic country's top police official, said Finns should not be frightened by the incident.

"Finns really don't have to be concerned. They don't have to worry or to fear," Rasanen told Finnish TV4.

The intelligence service said the incident would not heighten the perceived terror threat in Finland, which the authorities consider as low.

On Sept. 10, the Helsinki District Court ruled that police can detain the suspects for two weeks, Bjorkvist said, with a new custody hearing expected later this month.

Similar arrests have previously been made in neighboring Norway and Sweden.

In 2008, police in Norway and Sweden arrested six men suspected of funding terrorism activities in Somalia, but only one of them, a Somali-born Norwegian, was fined for having broken a U.N. arms embargo of the African country. The other five were released.