On Saturday, 11th December 2010, a man died in an explosion in the city centre of Stockholm. The authorities have not confirmed anything yet, but it is very likely that this was Sweden’s first suicide attack.
Many things in this story are still unclear. But there are the following facts: A little before 5pm (Swedish time) on Saturday, a car explodes on the corner of Olof-Palme-Gatan and Drottninggatan ““ the latter being one of Stockholm’s busiest shopping streets. A few minutes later, a man dies in an explosion in the smaller Bryggergatan. He was wearing a belt with 12 gas canisters, one of which exploded, and a backpack filled with nails and explosives. He dies instantly and two more people are injured.
Shortly before the first explosion, the police and the news agency TT receive a threat by email and an audio file, in which he says goodbye. In the email he criticizes Sweden for sending soldiers to Afghanistan and for accepting the artist Lars Vilks, one of the artists who portrayed the prophet Muhammed in a cartoon in 2007. In the message the man says: “Now your children, daughters and sisters die like our brothers’ and sisters’ children die.” In the audio file he says that that he had been in the Middle East for learning how to fight in the Jihad and asks for forgiveness from his family, because he lied to them about the real reason of his travelling. He also asks his wife to kiss the children from him.
Everything else is so far speculation. The police says that they have identified the man, but that they will not make an announcement before they have talked to the family. The most common theory in the European media at the moment is that this was a failed suicide attack. It is assumed that the man was on his way to either the train station or the big department store Ã…hlens, but then something went wrong and one of the gas canisters exploded early.
The media identifies the man as the 29-year-old Swedish citizen, who moved to the country from Bagdad with his parents in 1992. In 2001, he moved to Luton, UK, to study sports therapy at the University of Bedfordshire. Here, he became involved with a group of extreme Islamists. The group, who was responsible for the terrorist attacks in London in 2005 also started with meeting in Luton, before travelling to London. Additionally, he was active in several social online networks and was very outspoken against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He got married and had two children but also had an active profile on a Muslim dating website. There, he was searching for a second wife (in agreement with his first wife, as he said). He wanted a big family and also planned to move into an Arabic country. His family still lives in the UK, but he had a home in Sweden.
After the attacks, a house in Luton was searched, but nothing was found an nobody was arrested. The police only confirmed that the action was in connection with the explosions in Stockholm, but did not want to say more, because of the ongoing investigation.
As a result, Europe will stay on high alert over the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Eve. Both German and English media reports that there is a very high risk for more attempts.