Military staffer knew about attacks, but authorities claim bomber was 'unknown'
Somebody would have talked huh? — SnowCrash
Military staffer knew about attacks: report
A Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) employee warned an acquaintance to stay clear of an area in central Stockholm on Saturday where, several hours later, two explosions went off in what is being called a terrorist attack.
“If you can, avoid Drottninggatan today. A lot can happen there…just so you know,” the message said, according to the TT news agency.
Armed Forces spokesperson Jonas Svensson told TT on Sunday he was unaware of the message.
“I haven’t heard about this at all. Now I’m going to check out the information,” he told TT when confronted with the news.
Later the Swedish military said it was now “preparing how the issue will be dealt with”.
“The Swedish Armed Forces did not know ahead of time about the plans or the circumstances surrounding the events which have taken place. If that had been the case, (Swedish security service) Säpo, which is the responsible agency in these types of cases, would have been informed immediately,” said military spokesperson Erik Lagersten in a statement.
Swedish intelligence agencies may have known that something was in the works, Wilhelm Agrell, a professor in intelligence analysis, told TT.
“A warning is a slippery term and nothing concrete. Warnings can consist of very precise information that can be acted on, but it’s common that warnings are more diffuse and can’t be acted on,” Agrell said.
On Saturday night, TT spoke with John Daniels, head of security for Swedish military intelligence agency MUST. But he refused to comment, instead directing all inquiries to Säpo.
Säpo said on Sunday it was taking over the investigation of the two blasts, which occurred within minutes of one another and about 200 metres apart on Drottninggatan, a busy shopping street in central Stockholm.
The agency considers the explosions to be a terrorist crime.
One man believed to be a suicide bomber was killed in the second blast, while the first explosion injured two others.
Shortly before the explosions, Säpo and the TT news agency received a message from a 29-year-old man from southern Sweden who claimed that the prophet Mohammed was being degraded.
TT/The Local/dl (email@example.com)
Suicide bomber was 'unknown' to Säpo
Swedish intelligence officials on Monday said they are "98 percent" certain about the identity of the man who blew himself in central Stockholm on Saturday, adding he appeared to have three separate bombs.
According to chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand, the suspected suicide bomber was "completely unknown" to Swedish intelligence officials prior to Saturday’s blasts.
He added that evidence gathered so far suggests the man acted on his own, but that the investigation into possible ties continues.
"As it looks now, he was alone in carrying out the act. But experience tells us that there are usually more people involved," said Lindstrand.
While the suspect, identified in media reports and by an Islamist website as 29-year-old Taymour Abdel Wahab, is "98 percent identified," Lindstrand stopped short of making an official identification pending DNA analysis or an identification of the body by next of kin.
He added that while officials know the man was born in 1981 and gained Swedish citizenship in 1992, they remain uncertain of his country of birth, saying only it was "in the Middle East."
Lindstrand also confirmed that Abdel Wahab owned the car which exploded on the corner of Drottninggatan and Olof Palmesgatan, injuring two people.
"Yes, it can be tied to him," said Lindstrand, adding that the suspect had bought the car in November of this year.
The prosecutor described Abdel Wahab as "well equipped" with explosives, including a bomb belt and a backpack nail bomb.
"Where he was going, we don't know," said Lindstrand, but added it was plausible to speculate he was heading "someplace with lots of people."
"Maybe [Stockholm] central station. Maybe Åhléns [department store]."
The prosecutor confirmed as well that the threatening email received by the Swedish Security Agency (Säpo) and Swedish news agency TT just before the bombs exploded was sent by Abdel Wahab, explaining that it was sent from a "mobile phone or a mobile broadband device" from within Stockholm.
Shortly before the blast, Säpo and the TT news agency received an email containing audio files in Swedish, Arabic, and English which criticised Sweden for its military presence in Afghanistan and its acceptance of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who sparked a backlash in the Muslim world in 2007 by portraying the prophet Mohammed as a dog in a cartoon.
The message warned that "now your children, daughters and sisters die like our brothers' and sisters' children die."
Speaking at Monday's press conference, Anders Thornberg from Swedish security service Säpo said his colleagues are "working around the clock" to process tips from the public as well as information gleaned from interviews and other sources.
He added as well that "there is no reason to worry" that another attack on Swedish soil is imminent.
"When it comes to our threat assessment, we review things hour to hour. For the present, we will continue with the elevated threat level," he said, referring to the threat level in place since October.
Earlier in the day, the Expressen newspaper reported that Swedish intelligence officials suspected Abdel Wahab planned to set off bombs at three different locations in central Stockholm.
The backpack found near his body and filled with nails and screws was to be detonated remotely, the newspaper reported.
The final bomb was a belt made up of 12 gas canisters which officials believe was attached to Wahab's stomach.
One theory being examined by investigators is that he was heading toward Stockholm's central train station and the Åhléns department store to set off two other blasts besides the car bomb, but that one of the explosive devices detonated ahead of schedule.
“In all likelihood, something happened or he made some mistake so that some of the explosives detonated,” Lindstrand told reporters.
According to Expressen, the explosion that killed Wahab at the intersection of Bryggaregatan and Drottninggatan was caused by one of the 12 gas canisters attached to a belt around his body. The remaining canisters failed to detonate, however.
A mobile telephone was also found near the scene of the blast which killed Wahab, leading intelligence officials to believe the three bombs were somehow connected and could have been detonated remotely.
Thornberg also labeled as a "rumour" a report from TT on Sunday night that a Swedish Armed Forces employee had warned an acquaintance hours before the twin blasts to "avoid Drottninggatan."
"We have no idea about that. There is nothing that points to it [being true] other than what is in the media," he told reporters, adding that officials continue to investigate the report.
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