12 Dec 2010

Swedish car bombs: ‘links to Britain’

Shortly before two car bombs in Stockholm killed one person and injured two others, a Swedish news agency received a warning email threatening further attacks unless the “war against Islam” ended.

A man suspected of being responsible for two explosions in Sweden yesterday may have had links to Britain.

There are unconfirmed reports that the man who died in one of two explosions in Stockholm was an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen who lived in Luton for a time, and studied at Bedfordshire University.

Shortly before the explosions a letter was emailed to a Swedish news agancy threatening attacks on Sweden because of the presence of its troops in Afghanistan and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed drawn several years ago by a Swedish cartoonist.

Swedish police have refused to comment on whether the man was a suicide bomber, or whether he died because the devices he was carrying detonated prematurely, but say they think he acted alone.

Swedish police have said they have made good leads into the car bombs, which they are attributing to “terror crimes”.

The bombs exploded on a busy shopping street in the city centre on Saturday night in two separate cars. One man was killed in the explosions and Swedish media report that it appears the man was a suicide bomber, although this has yet to be confirmed or denied by police.

The first car burst into flames and then exploded, which were caused by gas canisters inside the car.

The second car was parted about 300 metres away and exploded 10 minutes after the first. When this car exploded it killed the man, and injured two others.

The man’s body was seen on the pavement for several hours after the blast, covered by a sheet.

The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter quoted a trained medic, as saying “It looked as if the man had been carrying something that exploded in his stomach”.

“He had no injuries to the face or body in general and the shops around were not damaged.”

Police forensics expert examines the remains of a suspected suicide bomber in central Stockholm (Reuters)

A short while before the two explosions the Swedish news agency TT, received a warning email saying “the time has come to take action”.

The email referred to Sweden’s military presence in Afghanistan and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad depicted as a dog, which drawn several years ago by a Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.

The email said according to TT:

“Our actions will speak for themselves, as long as you do not end your war against Islam and humiliation of the Prophet and your stupid support for the pig Vilks.”

“Now your children, daughters and sisters shall die like our brothers and sisters and children are dying,”

Sweden recently its terror threat level from low to elevated in October, because of “a shift in activities” among Swedish based groups that could be plotting attacks in the country.

However, Evan Kohlmann, a U.S. terrorism consultant, said that although he believed a small militant community was in Sweden, this was the result of one man’s work.

“Given the scale of this attack and the target, I suspect this is a home grown local extremist who may or may not have connections to any actual terrorist organisation.”

“We’ve seen a flurry of attempted attacks across northern Europe by similar lone wolf militants who were, in one way or another, enraged by the cartoon controversy.”

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the bomb attack had failed, but they could have been “truly catastrophic”.