A far right group of vigilante pirate migrant hunters are patrolling Sweden’s southern coast by speedboat in a bid to tackle illegal immigration.
Nationell Framtid’s boats monitor the strait of Öresund, a 5km stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden for illegal migrants – who they say are entering Sweden with the help of organised criminal gangs and left wing Danish ‘do-gooders who think they are helping’.
Their pseudo-paramilitary get up – all in black punctuated with a bright red tie and insignia badge on their chest paired with black balaclavas and doc martins – are a sinister sight on the misty water.
The group says they ‘need their country back’. Their aim is to ‘cleanse’ Sweden of all immigrants and say their patrol is a ‘small step to prevent the mass immigration we have faced for decades’. A record 163,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015.
Leader: Dennis Ljung, 31, is the founder of Nationell Framtid (National Future). The vigilantes have been on patrol since December.
Patrol: Dennis Ljung, 31 (centre) and his colleagues voluntarily patrol the strait of Öresund for illegal migrants in a speedboat.
Dennis Ljung, 31, leads the patrol – his far right group the Nationell Framtid – translated as National Future – emerged in April last year during the migrant crisis.
‘We need to take our country back. Our aim is to cleanse our nation free of all immigrants. What we do out on the ocean is just a small step to stop more the mass immigration we have faced for decades,’ he told MailOnline.
While he is heavily in debt and unemployed, Dennis is one of the few members of the group without a criminal record according to local media reports. At least 11 members have reportedly been convicted for weapons offences and several violent crimes.
He dismisses allegations the organisation has neo-Nazi sympathies despite also admitting that ‘of course’ they are in touch with the Soldiers of Odin – a gang of violent white supremacist vigilantes patrolling Finland’s streets to ‘prevent migrant sex attacks’.
‘We are a broader organisation than them. We have a written manifesto that outlines our political views, and a code of conduct for how members of Nationell Framtid are supposed to behave – we are not supposed to use violence unless it is necessary for example,’ said Dennis.
‘I will never say that we are an organisation of Nazis. Of course we have members who have been involved in that movement, but we are strong nationalists. That is it.’
Far right vigilante anti-migrant groups across Europe have mushroomed since violence blamed on newcomers rocked the continent.
In January 22-year-old Swedish social worker Alexandra Mezher was stabbed to death at a child migrant home in Molndal, Sweden, allegedly by a 15-year-old Somali boy.
Elsewhere in Sweden, the country that first opened its doors to refugees with open arms, tension is high after a spate of arson attacks on housing for asylum seekers.
Members say the government is not doing enough to prevent illegal immigration to Sweden, despite the tightened border checks.
There has been one documented case of an illegal migrant and smuggler arriving by rubber boat and were arrested by police.
While authorities say they received a record 163,000 applications for asylum in 2015 and are expecting a further 100,000 this year, nearly half may be rejected.
Members of Nationell Framtid have been drawn to the group for different reasons, but one thing is clear – they feel the government is not doing enough to prevent illegal immigration to Sweden.
Their modus operandi on the water is simple.
Two small speedboats patrol the strait, three men per boat who work 5 or 6 days each week.
To help them track down their target ‘suspicious boats’, they’re armed with radar, radios, binoculars and ‘intel’ from supporters in Denmark who tip them off to when are where smugglers cross.
Once their target is acquired, the team spring into action.
Charging through the waters at full speed, shouting warnings through a megaphone the men tell the captain to stop and that they have called the police then shadow them until they leave the Swedish coastline and return to Denmark.
If they refuse, the men manoeuvre their small speedboat in front of the boat to stop them from progressing and scream: ‘We won’t leave until you turn around’.
‘All boats that we challenge have turned around and gone back to Denmark,’ Dennis told MailOnline.
‘In most cases we haven’t actually seen any immigrants, we just know that they are inside the boats.’
At first, their aggressive tactics and menacing attire caused a problem, Dennis admitted to MailOnline during a three-hour interview on their boat in the middle of the strait.
‘As three men in balaclavas and black uniforms we can easily be seen as some kind of modern age pirates. If they have not heard about us they probably see us as dangerous maniacs, but people are used to us and seem to accept what we are doing.
‘Some even praise us since the coast guard is not doing its job,’ he said.
Vigilante: Founder and leader of the group Dennis Ljung, 31 (pictured), insists his group is different from anti-migrant street vigilantes ‘Soldiers of Odin’ because they have a written manifesto and a code of conduct for members to not resort to violence on patrol.
Military: The group carry out ‘military style’ foot patrols the streets of the Swedish town of Helsingborg to keep them ‘safe from criminal scum’. Above, Kristofer Carlson is no longer a member but he is still an active supporter of the group on social media.
According to Dennis, the team stop an average of four boats daily, but some days – when it’s very cold outside – a shift goes by without stopping a single vessel.
It can be a lonely and isolating task but the team insist they like to be away from the ‘idiots that can provoke you on land’.
The organisation’s motto is ‘Nemo me impune lacessit’, latin for ‘No one provokes me with impunity’.
He keeps the numbers of migrants they have stopped close to his chest but claims they have caught ‘loads of boats and ships containing illegal immigrants’.
The Swedish Coastguard told MailOnline that they are aware of Nationell Framtid and their activities, but dismiss the group’s claims regarding the number of boats they have stopped as ‘simply not true’, and have no reports of meeting their boats on the water.
According to spokesman Mattias Lindholm, one small rubber boat reached the southern shore of Sweden in January 2016 and two people were arrested by the Swedish Police after it crossed the straight of Öresund.
‘At sea we have not seen any other consequences of the reintroduced border control and id-checks.
‘There is a risk of migrants choosing the sea to reach or pass through Sweden in the spring so we remain on alert, in particular off the southern coastline,’ Mr Lindholm told MailOnline.
Dennis says the authorities are lazy, ‘There are so many lazy police men and coast guards that do not have the guts to go out on the water when it is freezing outside. We are here and we are here to stay!’
MailOnline was granted an exclusive interview with the group, who insisted that no phones were used and that the interview took place on their boat out at sea.
They are deeply mistrustful of the ‘liberal’ media however, and only Dennis agreed to talk – his comrade beside him, his lips mostly sealed beneath his black balaclava.
Refusing to speak on the phone with MailOnline on the day of the patrol, Dennis insisted on arranging the meet via Facebook chat citing ‘security concerns’.
The group are convinced their movements are being monitored by the authorities, and performed a full ‘background check’ on our reporter before the interview – their standard procedure before meeting anyone new.
‘We call the Tax Office to see if the person really exists they could be a left wing extremist in disguise and in rare cases we also call the District Court where the person is living to see if they are convicted of any crimes,’ Dennis explained.
Once cleared by their checks, MailOnline was permitted to join the patrol on the sole speedboat bobbing in the middle of the strait, passed regularly by the ferryboats crossing the 5km to and from Swedish Helsingborg and Danish Helsingör and the odd fishing boat.
Ignoring the flags and stickers, it could be a normal leisure boat – the interior is lined with white plastic, with wooden seats and panels.
The captain’s control room is filled with radar equipment, the megaphone lies casually on the floor.
MailOnline was not permitted to see the cabin for ‘security reasons’, as the area is ‘something they want to keep to themselves’.
Spike: Swedish special prosecutor Johan Larsson says there has been a spike in crimes involving smuggling immigrants illegally into Sweden from Denmark – 101 people were arrested last year compared to just 21 in 2014 – 44 people have been arrested so far in 2016.
Mobile phones were also forbidden.
One member said he joined Nationell Framtid because he ‘felt a need to do something against illegal immigration.’
‘This should be the government’s job, but they have failed to do anything,’ they claimed.
They also criticise the Swedish coastguard, accusing them of not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants illegally crossing into Sweden.
‘Groups like ours show that the Government cannot perform its basic duties,’ they claim.
As well as patrolling the sea, Nationell Framtid members carry out military-style foot patrols to keep the streets of coastal town Helsingborg ‘safe from criminal scum’.
They have also organised a soup kitchen for homeless Swedes, claiming that they are a non-profit organisation for Swedes who want to ‘keep our nation safe and Swedish’.
The coastguard says that it has received reports that Danes are transporting immigrants on sail boats over the strait.
They say they operate 24-hour surveillance on the strait and have more man power now after the border controls were put in place.
When the migration crisis was at its peak, 10,000 immigrants arrived in Sweden every week from Denmark using the bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen and the ferries between Helsingör and Helsingborg.
Since Sweden and Denmark imposed strict border controls in December, the number of immigrants entering Sweden from Denmark has plummeted with 500 people a week seeking asylum.
New border checks include ID-control on the waters with the coast guard patrolling by boat and air.
‘We don´t know how the future will be. It is depending on what is happening in Europe which can lead to chain reactions. What is now happening in Greece for instance, will have consequences for us in Sweden, but we don´t know what they will be. It has been quiet on the coast this winter, but that could be because it has been really cold,’ Swedish coastguard press office Mattias Lindholm told MailOnline.
‘We are waiting for what is to come during spring, when it gets warmer. We are prepared for everything in any case,’ Mr Lindholm said.
Sweden´s Attorney General Morgan Johansson has said that there are up to half a million immigrants in Germany who still has not applied for asylum there and that Sweden needs to keep these border controls throughout 2016, as heightened border controls are currently due to be relaxed in July.
About the situation in the waters between Denmark and Sweden:
Johan Larsson, special prosecutor in Malmö admits there has been a spike in crimes involving smuggling immigrants illegally into Sweden from Denmark, especially after the new border controls was implemented.
Authorities arrested 101 people for bringing in immigrants illegally to the southern region in Sweden in 2015 – up from just 21 in 2014. And they say that 44 people have been caught for the same crime so far in 2016.
The police attribute most cases to organised crime and dismiss people who take migrants across the border in the back of their car to make a spot of extra cash as a ‘minor percentage’.
‘Most of the cases involve trucks and containers and then we know that it is organised crime behind the operation,’ a police spokesman told MailOnline.
The Swedish government has imposed stricter border checks and passport checks for all ferries and vehicles crossing from Denmark.
The tightening of borders comes after the high point of the migrant crisis, when around 10,000 immigrants entered Sweden every week came from Denmark using the bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen and the ferries between Helsingör and Helsingborg.
Since the two countries imposed greater border restrictions in December, the number of immigrants entering Sweden from Denmark has fallen to around 500 a week seeking asylum.