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The group that ordered the theft of the infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign from the gates of Auschwitz planned to sell it to fund violent attacks against the Swedish Prime Minister and Parliament, the Times of London reported on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Swedish security police confirmed to the British newspaper that authorities were taking seriously a threat by a militant Nazi group to disrupt national elections next year.

"We are aware of the information about the alleged attack plans," said Patrik Peter, the security police spokesman.

Police recovered the German language sign, which reads "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free"), and detained five men early on Monday over the theft, which triggered widespread outrage, especially from Israel and Jewish groups.

Three men who police say have confessed have reenacted the crime for investigators. They reportedly are petty criminals who had been hired by a construction contractor for theft.

All the suspects face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of stealing and dismantling the sign. Prosecutor Piotr Kosmaty said the three who had confessed showed investigators how they unscrewed 30-kg. sign from the gateposts and tore it up.

According to the Times report, speculations as to who ordered the theft, and why, surfaced today in Swedish newspaper reports after the former leader of a Swedish Nazi group said that it had been stolen to order for a collector in England, France or the United States.

"We had a person who was ready to pay millions for the sign," the unnamed source told Aftonbladet, Sweden's biggest-selling daily newspaper.

The Nazi source said, the Times reported, that the money would pay for an attack on the home of Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister and on the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

A third attack allegedly involved plans to bombard Swedish MPs from the public seats of the parliament.

"The sign was to be delivered to Sweden, since it was here the deal should be made," the source said. "My role was to find a buyer. We had a person who was willing to pay millions but he had no political agenda. These things have a huge collector value... The biggest collectors are from England, the United States and France."

The source allegedly said that five men were to be paid for carrying out the theft. He reportedly insisted that he personally was not guilty of any crime as the deal had not been completed.

The Times quoted Aftonbladet as reporting that he had been convicted several times in connection with his Nazi affiliation, and that he had made repeated visits to Poland.

Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Nazi death camp located in southern Poland during World War Two. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter via a relatively small iron gate topped by the German-language motto.

More than 200 hectares (500 acres) of the former death camp became a museum after the war ended.

The wording of the sign became a symbol of the Nazis' efforts to deceive their victims into a false sense of security before murdering them.

Polish authorities made the recovery of the sign a priority and the museum, police and anonymous donors offered a reward of nearly $40,000 for information leading to its return.