Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Suicide Bomber Attack in Sweden

Aftonbladet's detailed picture of the actual suicide bomber
Yesterday Sweden got first-hand experience with the suicide bomber phenomenon when a man blew himself up in central Stockholm wounding two. Initial reports stated that a car in central Stockholm exploded around 17:00 local time; shortly after that a man was found dead close to the exploded car.  Signs indicate that the attacker attempted to blow himself up following the first exposion.
Gas canisters were later found in the car, and according to investigators it appears that “the explosion was carried out in order to attract police and rescue personnel to the scene”. In other words, the attacker could have meant to cause two attacks, the first targeting shoppers, and the second targeting police and ambulance personnel.
A backpack was found near the dead man that was full of nails—intended to cause more severe injuries—as well as six pipe bombs. Pascal, a medic which who was out shopping with his wife, heard the explosion and ran to the scene. In an interview he states that he “removed the Palestinian scarf from the man’s face and tried to resuscitate him”, yet without success. According to Pascal “it looked like the man had carried something which had exploded against his stomach”. It was in fact one of the six pipe bombs that killed the bomber.
Before the terror attack was carried out a sound file threat was sent to Swedish news agency TT as well as SÄPO. The recording was made by a man stated who that “it is time to strike”—with the justification that the prophet Muhammad has been humiliated  and that there is an ongoing war being waged by the West against Islam.

The man also encouraged other Muslims to “stop sucking up and humiliate themselves”. The bomber apologized to his family for lying about a trip he had made to the Middle East. In the recording he confessed:  “I never went to the Middle East to work or make money, I went for Jihad”.

In the recording the man proclaimed his love for his children and asked his wife to kiss them from him. At the end the man stated that it is Swedish people, Lars Vilks and his Muhammad Cartoons, the Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan and the Swedish people’s silence, which are the reasons for his act.  One of his concluding statements was: “So shall your children, daughters, brothers and sisters die like our brothers and sisters and children die” and lastly he repeated that “the mujahidin should not forget him and should pray for him”. The audio file is in both Swedish and Arabic and is available here:
 According to the Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) which deals with counter-terrorism in Sweden, there is still no conclusive evidence that the man has any connections to known terrorist organizations. 
Yet, according to Magnus Ranstorp, Sweden’s leading terrorist expert and professor at the Defense College in Stockholm, the trips made to London and Jordan seem to point towards a distinct possibility that the man was not alone in planning the act. This belief is further strengthened by the advanced pipe bombs found at the scene and the intended dual explosion. Multiple explosions have been carried out in the past, one example being the notorious  Palestinian attack in Jerusalem’s Zion Square in 2001 which killed more than a dozen people and left many more maimed and injured, including rescue personnel. It may turn out that the style of the attacks and the Palestinian-style scarf were less than coincidental.
The initial car bomb
Today Sweden’s Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, held a press conference in response to the terror attack. According to Reinfeldt, speaking at 13:00 local time, there was “no need to believe that the car blast and the man necessarily had any linkage” He also emphasized that what had happened is “undesirable and unacceptable. It is something that an open society such as Sweden cannot accept”. He also stressed that the Swedish people “shouldn’t come to hasty conclusions”, this even though much prior to Reinfeldt’s statement foreign minister Carl Bildt Twittered that Sweden had been struck by a terror attack . 
The man is still unidentified but is believed to be a man from the town of Tranås in Southern Sweden. The man was in fact the registered owner of the car which exploded minutes before the man himself exploded. On Sunday police were reported as searching the man’s apartment in Tranås and they were 95% certain that the man who owned the car and the suicide bomber where the same man.
According to Sweden’s English language daily, the Local, a Facebook page believed to belong to the bomber indicated that he supported violent struggle. He had also posted numerous videos relating to the Iraq war, the war in Chechnya and the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. According to the Local, “His favorite pages on Facebook included ‘Yawm al-Qiyaamah’, the Islamic ‘Day of Resurrection’. The page’s signature image features London’s Tower Bridge being engulfed in flames and floods. Another favorite page was the ‘Islamic Caliphate State’.”

The man was apparently also active on Muslim dating sites where he was looking for a second wife. In a posted message he claims that he was born in Iraq and moved to Sweden in 1992.
Despite Reinfeldt’s hesitation, it is clear that Sweden has experienced its first attack by  Muslim Jihadist suicide bomber. Swedish Police currently believe that the man’s bomb may have detonated too early—which is one of the reasons as to why only two people sustained light injuries as a result of the blast. The man exploded in one of the most crowded streets in central Stockholm, targeting Stockholm’s major shopping district in the evening when many Swedes were out Christmas shopping. It is quite clear that the man aimed at causing as much “collateral damage” as possible.
Now more than ever, it is time for Sweden to wake up and realize that Sweden is not safe from the terrorist phenomenon which plagues the world today. In fact, no country which harbors a large unassimilated Muslim population is immune from these attacks.
Hopefully, as a result of this failed terror attack Swedish leaders who have been in denial will now see the threat and react appropriately. It’s time to take active steps towards halting Swedish governmental financial support for terror-linked organizations, and to stop providing a safe haven for terrorists in Sweden.

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