A man who Fox News billed as a “Swedish defense and national security adviser” in order to back claims on the network that Middle Eastern immigrants have caused a crime wave in Sweden is someone about whom Swedish military and foreign affairs officials say they know nothing.
Both Sweden and most in the U.S. have been baffled about a claim made by President Trump during one of his rallies suggesting that immigrants are responsible for “what’s happening last night in Sweden” — implying a terror attack of sorts, which he claimed occurred the night before his rally last week in Melbourne, Florida.
Trump later clarified that his claim was not based on U.S. intelligence or other government agencies’ information, but on something he had watched on television — which he apparently did not then, and has not since sought to confirm with the U.S. Intelligence Community. The particular TV show that Trump was referencing was one by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson who had featured a segment with filmmaker Ami Horowitz. A film by Horowitz had suggested a link between refugees and increased crime rates in Sweden — a claim which Swedish officials have strongly disputed.
On Thursday, Bill O’Reilly, seeking to ‘get to the bottom’ of the matter, convened a panel for his Fox show on Thursday. The panel included Anne-Sofie Naslund a Swedish newspaper reporter from Expressen newspaper, and a man who was identified on screen and also verbally as “Swedish defense and national security adviser” Nils Bildt.
Bildt disputed the position of the Swedish reporter on crime in Sweden by attempting to link immigration to crime and social problems in the nation, faulting what he called Swedish liberal close mindedness about the disadvantages of allowing immigrants, claiming that “We are unable in Sweden to socially integrate these people.”
The segment “quickly caused controversy back in Sweden, where reporters and experts suggested that Bildt was unknown within the Swedish national security world,” according to a report by the Washington Post.
The Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter reported on Friday that neither the Swedish armed forced nor the Foreign Ministry had ever heard of Mr. Bildt. Johan Wiktorin, who is a fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences, tweeted what he claimed to be Bildt’s real name and denied that he was even an expert — let alone adviser — on national security.
— Johan Wiktorin (@forsvarsakerhet) February 24, 2017
According to Dagens Nyheter, Bildt had, in fact, emigrated from Sweden to the U.S. in 1994 and that his real name was, indeed, Nils Tolling. The paper also noted that Bildt was convicted of a violent offense which landed him a one year prison sentence in 2014.
When WaPo reached him by email, Bildt said that he did not dispute the newspaper’s reporting, but noted that he had not chosen the title which appeared for him on screen nor how Bill O’Reilly introduced him verbally. “I made clear that I am an independent analyst,” he said to the Post.
He also later disputed the claim that he had served time in prison. “Had I spent a year in prison, I would think I would remember it,” he said.
Bildt — or Tolling — is listed as one of the founding partners of Modus World LLC, a company claiming to be based in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, offering a variety of consulting services, among them, “operations and management of possible kidnap and ransom situations.”