Säpo: unsure if blasts an isolated attack

A top Swedish intelligence official said Sunday that the twin blasts that rocked a shopping street in central Stockholm was a suspected suicide attack, but was unsure if it was a one-off.

Säpo: unsure if blasts an isolated attack
Anders Thornberg of Säpo speaking the day after the Stockholm blasts

Anders Thornberg, who heads the security unit of Swedish intelligence agency Säpo, told AFP his investigators were trying to find out if Saturday’s attack was part of a broader threat to Sweden or an isolated attack.

“We are trying to find out if something similar is going on (elsewhere in Sweden). We don’t have any indication about that, but we will try to make sure this was a single action,” Thornberg said in an interview.

The attacks were labeled a “terrorist crime” on Sunday by Sweden’s chief prosecutor.

Thornberg said Säpo “suspected” it was a suicide attack: “If it is a suicide attack, it will be the first” in Sweden, he said.

“If you blow up a bomb with a certain purpose, to make people afraid, to make society less safe and so on, it is a terrorist crime.”

“The investigation is going on 24/7 and we are now led by the prosecutors. We are trying to get a clear picture of what is going on,” Thornberg said.

But he said it was too early to say if the two blasts, within a few hundred metres and about 15 minutes of each other, were linked.

“We think so but we are still investigating,” he told AFP.

On October 1, Säpo said in a statement it was raising the threat of “terrorism targeting Sweden” from low to elevated, to level three of a five-level scale.

Thornberg said there was no immediately obvious link to the attack and the elevated threat level.

“We cannot see any link. But we can’t say no either,” he said, adding that the terrorism threat level was monitored every day.

Säpo has not hiked the level any higher since Saturday’s attack.

When asked about security measures surrounding Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who drew the prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog and who was named in an emailed threat received by Säpo and Swedish news agency TT before the blasts, Thornberg said he could not comment on individuals.

“We cannot comment about threats against a certain person, but if there is a threat, we will protect all people around Sweden,” he said.


Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”.