Swede linked to al-Qaeda

Recruitment documents seized by American soldiers on the Iraqi-Syrian border have pointed to the involvement of a Swedish citizen in an organization with ties to al-Qaeda, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

Born in Tunisia in 1974, the man – who goes by the cover name Abu Mua’az – moved to Sweden in 2000. Registered at an address in the northwestern Stockholm suburb Rinkeby, he is married with three children, the youngest of whom is two years old.

In October 2006, a number of Sunni insurgent groups merged to form the Islamic State of Iraq (Dawlat al-‘Iraq al-Islamiyya). Shortly after its foundation, Abu Mua’az left Sweden to join the new umbrella group.

He travelled first to Egypyt, before moving on to Syria. Aside from a passport and driving licence, he also took with him $2,700, which he promptly handed over as a “donation” to a recruitment agent named Ashraf.

Asked about the nature of the work they intended carrying out in Iraq, many of the applicants stated that they wished to become martyrs, which is understood to mean that they were prepared to perform suicide missions. Abu Mua’az however indicated that he wished to be a “fighter”.

The Swede’s recruitment document is one of 606 such papers – the so-called Sinjar Records – published online by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, New York.

“There is no reason to question the information used in the research project,” Mats Paulsson, head of Swedish Security Service Säpo’s counterespionage unit, told Svenska Dagbladet.

The Islamic State of Iraq is the same group that threatened to assassinate the artist Lars Vilks following the publication in Swedish newspapers of his caricature of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog.

The group has also claimed responsibility for a number of murders and suicide attacks within Iraq.

“There is no formal, legal way to prevent people leaving the country to participate in these activities,” said Mats Paulsson.

When Svenska Dagbladet’s reporter tried to contact Abu Mua’az, he was informed by somebody claiming to be the man’s cousin that Abu Mua’az, his wife and older brother were all currently overseas and unavailable for comment.