Swedes appeal Somalia terror plot conviction

As the appeals court trial of two Swedish men convicted of "planning terrorist crimes" in Somalia opened in Gothenburg on Friday, a lawyer for the defence argued that Sweden's anti-terror legislation does not cover the Al-Shabaab militia.

Swedes appeal Somalia terror plot conviction

Bille Ilias Mohamed, 26, and Mohamoud Jama, 23, were sentenced to four years in jail in December for “planning terrorist crimes” in Somalia.

The court had said that the two Swedish citizens “had taken it upon themselves, and decided with the Somali Islamist Al-Shabaab militia to commit terrorist crimes in the form of suicide attacks.”

As the pair’s appeal trial opened Friday, Mohamed’s lawyer Thomas Olsson said the case against his client was weak and that he doubted Al-Shabbab could be considered a terrorist organisation according to Sweden’s anti-terror legislation, adding that the militia was a party in an armed conflict abroad.

“The prosecutor’s case was very weak with regards to the allegation my client was preparing a suicide attack,” he said, according to news agency TT.

“It seems doubtful that (Sweden’s) anti-terror legislation can apply to the conflict in Somalia,” he added.

Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström argued her evidence was strong enough, as demonstrated by the lower court’s conviction, and that anti-terror legislation applied in the case.

Somali Islamist movement Al-Shabaab has declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network and controls most of southern and central Somalia.

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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”.