Terror suspect a ‘normal Muslim’: wife

The 37-year-old man being held in Sweden on suspicions of plotting a terror attack on a Danish newspaper is a "normal Muslim," his wife has told a Swedish newspaper on Thursday.

Terror suspect a 'normal Muslim': wife

He and three other men from Sweden believed to be behind the plot are nevertheless to remain in custody.

Attunda district court north of Stockholm on Thursday extended the detention of Sahbi Zalouti, a 37-year-old a Swedish citizen of Tunisian decent, on probable cause for suspicions that he was preparing terror crimes.

But in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the current and ex-wife of Zalouti said they question the accusations against him.

“Maybe he’s met some bad people, but does that make him a bad person?” his wife told DN.

Zalouti is one of four men from Sweden who was arrested on December 29th in a joint Swedish-Danish investigation for hatching what Danish officials called a plan to “kill as many people as possible” in an imminent assault on the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten daily.

Also on Thursday, a court in Glostrup near Copenhagen ordered that three other men from Sweden suspected along with Zalouti continue to be held in isolation until January 27th, at which time a judge will re-evaluate the remand order against them.

The three suspects held in Copenhagen include Munir Awad, a 29-year-old Swede born in Lebanon, 30-year-old Swede Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and 44-year-old Tunisian national and Swedish resident Mounir Dhahri.

In 2005, Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world. According to his wife, Zalouti bears no ill will against the newspaper.

“No, no, he doesn’t hate Jyllands-Posten at all. I’ve never heard him say anything like that. He’s not like that,” she said.

Zalouti’s ex-wife criticised the way investigators and the media asked about what kind of person he is.

“Why does everyone ask that?” she told DN.

“They always ask what Sahbi thinks about the US, Denmark, Lars Vilks, Jyllands-Posten and the cartoons. They should be looking for evidence of a crime and there is no evidence that Sahbi has done any of this. He’s a genuinely good person.”

After the remand hearing near Stockholm, Zalouti’s attorney took issue with claims by the prosecutor that the suspicions against Zalouti have been strengthened since his arrest.

“I asked the prosecutor to explain why he thought that. And what he offered is, in my estimation, not worthy of strengthening the suspicions,” Zalouti’s attorney told the TT news agency.

According to the prosecutor, there is a strong likelihood that Zalouti will be extradited to Denmark since the suspicions against him involved planned acts of terrorism in that country.

However, Nilsson expressed his doubts that his client would be handed over to Danish authorities.

“I think there are some complications with that, among them the way in which the suspicions against him have been formulated,” he said, adding that if a extradition request was made, he would ask the prosecutor to explain exactly what legal precedent on which the request would be made.


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”.