Two explosions ripped through Stockholm, Sweden Saturday night, in what appears to be the first suicide bombing in the history of Sweden and the first terrorist attack the country has seen in three decades. The attack began when a car exploded in the middle of a busy shopping area, followed minutes later by a blast a few blocks away on a busy pedestrian street. The second explosion injured two people and killed one man – presumably the suicide bomber, although police have not yet confirmed that information.
Tomas Lindstrand, Sweden’s top prosecutor, on Monday said he is “98 percent” certain that “the man who blew himself up” was Taymour Abdel Wahab, a 28-year-old Iraqi-born Swedish citizen who lived several years in Britain, where his wife and three children remain. Lindstrand’s comments came after the al-Qaeda-linked website Shumukh al-Islam named Abdel Wahab as the bomber.
Taymour Abdel Wahab
Also Monday, Swedish police indicated that one of the bombs strapped to the man may have exploded prematurely when he stumbled, saving the country from a more deadly attack. “It’s not unreasonable to assume that he could have made a mistake, so that a portion of the bomb detonated and caused his death,” Lindstrand said. “There is speculation that he was on his way to a place where there are a lot of people.”
Likely linked to Abdel Wahab and the explosion – although again not yet confirmed – is an audio file that was sent to Swedish news agency TT shortly before the blast, referring to jihad, Sweden’s military presence in Afghanistan, and a cartoon by a Swedish artist that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. “Now the Islamic state has been created. We now exist here in Europe and in Sweden. We are a reality,” the voice said. “I don’t want to say more about this. Our actions will speak for themselves.”
Sweden prides itself on having a tolerant and peaceful society, and on avoiding involvement in the upheavals that have ravaged much of Europe in modern history, including World War II and the terrorist attacks that have struck European capitals since 9/11. But while Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt urges the country to “stand up for tolerance” and to not allow the bombing to undermine the Swedish way of life, if nothing else, the Swedes should consider Saturday a wake-up call. Muslim extremists don’t view the world on a tolerance spectrum, but on an Islamic one. Sweden, like most of Europe, is based on liberalism, and until Islamic extremism is fully discredited, all non-Muslim states and their citizens remain viable targets in the eyes of the Islamists.