By: Kristen Hegel
Swedish officials have recently confirmed that the bombings in Stockholm on Saturday, December 11, were, in fact, an act of terror. This attack was the first in Sweden’s history. The suicide bomber was identified as 28-year-old Taimour Abdulwahab, a Swedish citizen who has resided in Britain for the past decade. The blasts not only killed Abdulwahab, but also injured two bystanders.
According to Tomas Lindstrand, a prosecutor in the case, the explosives likely exploded by accident before Abdulwahab had planned. Abdulwahab had bombs strapped to his body and in a book bag he was carrying. “He had three sets of bombs and I don’t think his intention was to blow himself up only. It was a failure, luckily,” Lindstrand said. “He was well-equipped with bomb material, so I guess it isn’t a too daring guess to say he was on his way to a place where there were as many people as possible, maybe the central station, maybe Ahlens (a department store).”
Abdulwahab sent threatening e-mails with audio to Swedish police from his cell phone, “Our acts will speak for themselves. Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying.” In the audio, Abdulwahab was referring to part of Sweden’s military that is currently in Afghanistan. Prior to the bombing, Swedish authorities had no knowledge of Abdulwahab and the danger he posed. Keeping track of him would have been difficult for authorities considering he only came to Sweden once a year for his father’s birthday.
The Swedish citizen, with ties to the middle east, was known for his radicalism. He also had ties to Luton, a British city with a large Muslim population. The Secretary of the Luton Islamic Center, Farasat Latif, said Abdulwahab attended the center for a while in 2006 and 2007, but stopped coming because people opposed the radical ideas he preached. “It was fed back to the committee of the mosque who explained that his ideas were incorrect. He seemed to accept it. We thought we had led him back to the truth,” Latif explained. “One day during morning prayers in the month of Ramadan- there were about 100 people there- the chairman of the mosque stood up and exposed him, warning against terrorism, suicide bombings and so on. He knew it was directed at him. He stormed out of the mosque and was never seen again.”
Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, responded to the attacks via Twitter, “Most worrying attempt at terrorist attack in crowded part of central Stockholm. Failed- but could have been truly catastrophic.” Swedish authorities are still investigating the attacks to know exactly what happened, and how to make this terrorist attack their first and last.