Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WAR ON TERROR - From Sweden

"Police Say Early Detonation of Bomb Averted Disaster in Sweden" by JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA, New York Times 12/13/2010


Two days after a bomber killed himself and slightly wounded two people in a commercial district here crowded with Christmas shoppers, investigators offered glimpses of a suspect who, in the pattern of other Islamist terrorists, moved unobtrusively between Europe and the Middle East as he prepared to martyr himself, only to botch the operation in a manner that suggested a clumsy do-it-yourself attack.

The bomber was identified Monday as Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, a 28-year-old Swede of Iraqi origin, who reportedly had been living with his wife and children in a house in Luton, just north of London, until as recently as three weeks ago. The town is notorious now as the early morning starting point for the four bombers who attacked the London transit system on July 7, 2005, killing 56 people, including themselves.

Police investigators searched the Luton house as well as an apartment in Stockholm’s northwestern suburbs, and carried away potential evidence, including a family car that was mounted on a flatbed and taken away from the Luton home.

The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported in its Monday editions that Mr. Abdaly had also recently visited Jordan. A sound recording delivered by e-mail to a Swedish news agency minutes before the explosions included an apology to his family for having lied to them about previous trips to the Middle East, which he said had not been for business but for jihad, or holy war.

Swedish and British investigators, who appeared to be working in close cooperation, were careful for the time being not to point to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization as having played a part. But at a Stockholm news conference, Tomas Lindstrand, Sweden’s chief prosecutor for terrorist offenses, said that while the bomber was “definitely on his own in the execution” of the explosions, “from experience, we know that there are usually more people involved in such actions.”

The case recalled that of Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old American of Pakistani origin who botched his attempt to set off a powerful bomb in Times Square in May and was sentenced to life in prison. He received training from the Taliban and financing from abroad, but tried to carry off the bombing alone.

The two explosions set off by the Stockholm bomber occurred on side streets crossing the pedestrian mall called Drottninggatan, the city’s principal shopping street, and suggested that a catastrophic outcome had been narrowly averted. Mr. Abdaly appeared to have started by igniting an assembly of gas canisters in a white Audi 80 Vantage car bought for about $1,500 from a second-hand dealer in late November in the provincial city of Vadstena, causing an eruption of flame but limited damage.

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