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Al-Qaeda issues new Sweden threat: report

TT/Vivian Tse · 17 Feb 2011, 14:20

Published: 17 Feb 2011 12:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Feb 2011 14:20 GMT+01:00

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According to terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, it is a sign that Sweden has become more attractive to terrorists. The tribute to Taimour Abdulwahab is a sign that Sweden has become a more viable country to focus on, Ranstorp believes.

"Preferably, the extremists want to strike against Denmark, but the Danish security police are much more offensive and harder to target and penetrate. It's the Madrid effect. Sweden is the soft underbelly" he told The Local on Thursday.

Abdulwahab appears a number of times in the over 60-page publication, which also includes basic information on how to produce an explosion and what the parts of an assault rifle are called.

"We are following this closely. It is a threat on an inspiration level," Malena Rembe of the Swedish Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen, Säpo) told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Thursday in reference to Inspire's tribute to Taimour Abdulwahab in its latest issue.

Säpo added that it could be "an impetus for individuals who have already crossed the line between word and deed."

"That he lived a comfortable life and had a wife and children did not stop Taimour Abdulwahab from responding to the call to jihad (holy war)," Inspire wrote, adding, "He carried out a martyr operation in Stockholm, Sweden, which damaged the entire EU."

"We need more like him," read one caption.

Revenge for the caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad drawn by controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks and published by Örebrö newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in 2007 has become the common denominator of violent Islamic extremism in Sweden, SvD wrote on Thursday.

"It is time that the Swedish government rethinks its position against Islam and Muslims before the Mujahideen strike again," warned the magazine, according to SvD.

"The Swedes seem to have set out to show its dislike of Muslims and are eager to join the league of nations that are hostile to Islam and Muslims. This operation can serve as a reminder to the Swedish government and people to reconsider their position before their list of crimes against us are too long and it is too late," the magazine continued, SvD reported.

Following Abdulwahab's attack, three Swedish citizens were arrested late last year after a plot to attack journalists at Copenhagen's Jyllands-Posten, which also published the images, was uncovered by authorities.

It is not unexpected that the magazine would use Abdulwahab as an example, Ranstorp said. It was also not the first time that Sweden has cropped up in Inspire, which has previously referenced Vilks and Nerikes Allehanda's editor-in-editor Ulf Johansson.

To be mentioned in this context is never good, Ranstorp added.

"It is an important magazine with direct links to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Whatever pops up in the newspaper is serious," he said.

Practical information on how to construct explosives at home in a mother's kitchen are interspersed with more comprehensive interviews with leading ideologues and strategists.

The magazine's tagline states that it is a "periodical magazine issued by the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Arabian Peninsula" and has been described targeting "aspiring jihadists in the US or UK" by the Brookings Institute.

The purpose, as the title suggests, is to inspire and its target audience are those who are curious in the West.

According to Ranstorp, the web editor is an American in his mid-20s who understands American culture and packaging and disappeared from the US earlier this year or one and a half years ago, fleeing to Yemen.

"The main focus is the US, but also Europeans, Australians and others who speak English. The Germans have had a lot of citizens go to Pakistan after they started producing a lot material in German," said Ranstorp.

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"It gives directives and can provide individuals with a extremist bent a push onto the path. Young people think this is cool, it is the ultimate form of rebellion against Western society," he added.

The material is well packaged, easily accessible and accordingly attractive.

"One should not be fooled because it is flashy. It is serious and in terms of marketing, is ingenious," said Ranstorp.

According to Ranstorp, the message is somewhat contradictory. Although the magazine provides advice on how to communicate securely on the internet and travel to conflict zones, it also warns against visiting jihadi training areas in order not to attract the attention of the FBI.

"There is both danger and an opportunity [for anti-terrorist agencies] since they can also track who is reading these sites and see what are these individuals thinking about, but there is no question that this is a serious threat for Sweden," said Ranstorp.

He added that although the publication is available online, its web presence is elusive due to the threat of being shut down. Meanwhile, other jihadist websites have suspected that the magazine may be a hoax, citing its low quality.

TT/Vivian Tse (news@thelocal.se)

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