British police join probe into Sweden blast

Last Updated: Monday, December 13, 2010 - 10:04

Stockholm: British police raided a property near London as part of a probe into a fatal blast in Stockholm, which Swedish investigators say was a "terrorist crime".

The Swedish capital was hit by twin explosions on Saturday -- a suspected suicide attack and separate blast -- targeting Christmas shoppers in a busy pedestrian area of the city.

A man investigators suspect may have been the bomber was killed while the other explosion nearby injured two people.

Islamist website Shumukh al-Islam named Taymour Abdel Wahab as the man responsible for the explosions, although Sweden`s intelligence agency Saepo has refused to comment on the claim.

The latest development in Britain came as British newspapers reported on Monday that a man claimed by the al Qaeda-linked website to be behind the bomb blasts had studied and lived in Luton, Bedfordshire.

"Officers executed a search warrant under the Terrorism Act 2000 at an address in Bedfordshire. There have been no arrests," said a spokesman for London Metropolitan Police.

"We are confirming that this is in connection with the incident in Stockholm on Saturday."

British media reported that Wahab had studied at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, around 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of London, and had continued living in the town in recent years.

His wife and children were reportedly still living in Luton, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph reported.

"We are opening an investigation into a terrorist crime," Anders Thornberg, head of the security unit of domestic intelligence agency Saepo, said Sunday. "We suspect that it was a suicide attack."

The man who died may have been the attacker, said Thornberg, but he added: "We will not draw conclusions too quickly.

"If this was a suicide attack, it will be the first in Sweden," he noted.

The Shumukh al-Islam website published a photograph of a man in dark glasses and Western clothes, which they said was of Wahab.

"It is our brother, mujahid Taymour Abdel Wahab, who carried out the martyrdom operation in Stockholm," it said.

About 10 minutes before Saturday`s blasts, the TT news agency and Saepo received an email, which included audio files in both Swedish and Arabic, in which the suspected attacker addresses "Sweden and the Swedish people”.

"Our acts will speak for themselves," TT quoted the message as saying. "Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying."

The message referred to the Swedish military presence in Afghanistan and to Swedish artist Lars Vilks, the object of constant threats since his drawing of the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog was first published in 2007.

Hours after the bombings, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had already described the events as a terror attack on his Twitter feed.

But Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt later cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions.

He nevertheless slammed the bombings as "unwanted and unacceptable”.

Sweden, he said, was an "open society which has shown it is willing that people with different beliefs and backgrounds and Gods can live side by side with each other in an open society and democracy that functions well."

Saepo -- which is now working under the direction of Sweden`s chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstroem -- took charge of the probe at 9:00 am (0800 GMT) Sunday, when the attacks were classified as a terrorist crime, Thornberg said.

He said two people were injured when a car packed with gas canisters exploded around 5:00 pm Saturday in the busy Drottninggatan shopping street.

A second blast shortly afterwards about 300 metres (yards) away, killed a man.

Swedish media said the man had been found with a backpack containing six "pipe bombs”, only one of which exploded, injuring him critically in the stomach area.
A bag full of nails was also found near the dead man, media reported.

"The fact that the device also contained fragments shows that the intention was to mutilate and kill," bomb disposal expert Bo Janzon told the TT news agency.

Despite that, Stockholmers carried on shopping as usual on Sunday, and Drottninggatan was full of Christmas shoppers.

In the English version of the e-mail sent to TT and Saepo, the man called for other attacks.

"And to all hidden mujahedeen in Europe and especially Sweden it is now the time to strike, even if you have only a knife to strike with, and I know that you have more than that," the message ends.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, December 13, 2010 - 10:04

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