Swedish bomber `planned Christmas carnage`

The Stockholm suicide bomber wanted to wreak carnage among Christmas shoppers, investigaters claims.

Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 09:43 AM IST

Stockholm: A suicide bomber who blew himself up in Stockholm at the weekend was carrying a cocktail of explosives and probably meant to wreak carnage among Christmas shoppers, investigators said.

As police searched the father-of-three`s home near London, Sweden`s chief prosecutor confirmed investigators believed the bomber was a Swedish citizen who lived in Britain and was bent on killing "as many people as possible".

After an Islamist group said Taymour Abdelwahab targeted Sweden on Saturday over its military presence in Afghanistan, prosecution chief Tomas Lindstrand warned the bomber would likely have had accomplices.

While the results of DNA tests were still needed for confirmation, Lindstrand told reporters he was "98 percent" certain of the bomber`s identity but was trying to work out his eventual target before he blew himself up prematurely.

"He had a bomb belt on him, he had a backpack with a bomb and he was carrying an object that has been compared to a pressure cooker. If it had all blown up at the same time, it would have been very powerful," he said.

"Where he was headed ... we don`t know. It is likely that something happened, that he made some kind of mistake that led to part of the bombs he was carrying went off and caused his death.

"This was during Christmas shopping in central Stockholm and he was extremely well-equipped when it came to bomb material ... It is not much of a stretch to say he was going to a place with as many people as possible."

While it had been established the suspect carried out the attack alone, investigators "have to assume he worked with several people," Lindstrand told AFP.

Stockholm narrowly avoided mass casualties not seen in Europe for some time when it was attacked, Sweden`s foreign minister said.

Carl Bildt told BBC television that the bomber was just minutes and "a couple of hundred metres" from causing catastrophe when he blew himself up.

Bildt said he did not know the bomber`s exact target but added that he appeared to have been "heading into probably the most crowded place of Stockholm at the most crowded time of the year.

"He was heading into a place where if he had exploded all of the ordnance that he had with him... it would have been mass casualties of a sort that we have not seen in Europe for quite some time," he told the programme Newsnight.
Abdelwahab, who would have been 29 the day after the blasts, was reportedly born in Iraq but investigators said he became a Swedish citizen 18 years ago and had never come to the attention of the security services.

In London a spokesman for the city`s Metropolitan Police said officers raided a property in nearby Luton late Sunday as part of the investigation.

The chairman of a mosque in Luton where the suspected bomber used to worship said that Abdelwahab was a "bubbly" character known for his hardline views before he "stormed out" for good when tackled about them in 2007.
"I had to confront him three or four times because his views were so extreme," Qadeer Baksh told AFP.

"He was saying physical jihad was an obligation for all Muslims and saying that Muslim scholars are unreliable and untrustworthy because they are in the pockets of governments," he added.

"I am shocked because I never imagined he would go this far."

Bureau Report