A car loaded with gas canisters detonated in a busy section of downtown Stockholm today, followed by another explosion 10 minutes later caused by a suicide bomber.
After the explosions, the bomber was found dead lying about 300 yards away from the car bomb, reportedly wearing a suicide vest and a backpack full of nails and surrounded by the remains of pipe bombs. The bombs apparently were inexpertly crafted and failed to detonate to full capacity. Two people were wounded in the bombings, which took place in a street filled with Christmas shoppers.
Only minutes before the attacks, the Swedish Security Police (SAPO) had received an email warning, with sound files in both Swedish and Arabic, referring to the presence of Swedish forces in Afghanistan and to the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by Swedish artist Lars Viks, Reuters reported.
“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 Viks,” the speaker threatened on the tape, as reported by Swedish news agency TT.
The message threatened the Swedish state and its people, according to the BBC, saying the time had come for them to die “like our brothers and sisters.” It also exhorted militant Muslims in Sweden and Europe to rise up against the West.
Just two weeks ago, Abu Zaid, a member of the Somali-based, al Qaeda-linked Shabaab, issued a videotape threatening Viks.
“We will get hold of you and with Allah’s permission we will catch you wherever you are and in whatever hole you are hiding in,’ Zaid said. “Know what awaits you, as it will be nothing but this: slaughter! For that is what you deserve…. To my brothers and sisters, I call you to make (migration), and if you can kill this dog called Lars, then you will receive a great reward from Allah.”
Within recent months, the terror alert in Sweden has been raised to his highest level in five years, amid concerns about possible Mumbai-styled terror plots targeting European cities. In early October, the Swedish Security service said that “a handful” of Swedish citizens had traveled to Pakistan for training at terror camps. Later that month, it was reported that two of three men arrested in connection to a bomb threat in central Gothenburg remained in custody, while police were working closely with SAPO to forestall any possible plots.
Today’s bombing bears some similarity to the failed Times Square bombing in New York City on May 1, 2010, in which a relatively small operation attempted a significant attack in a major metropolitan area. As in that case, apparently poor bomb-making skills prevented today’s attack from causing extensive harm.
Note: This report will be updated as more information becomes available.