• Sweden's news in English

Terror raid based on 'vague' information

TT/Rebecca Martin · 15 Dec 2011, 08:24

Published: 15 Dec 2011 08:24 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“This is completely juvenile. How can you deem this to be a credible witness? I don’t think it gets more confused than this,” said Nizar, one of those arrested at the time, to SR.

It was in the early hours of the morning on October 30th 2010 when a large team of police entered the home of two families in the Gothenburg area.

Young children stood in horror as their parents were forced down to the ground by a squad of screaming police officers aiming their guns at them.

Three men and one woman taken into custody by the police.

The police have continued to maintain that they were acting on a tip from a “credible source”, a woman who had overheard a mobile phone conversation in Arabic.

The woman had claimed to have heard a man mention the slang word that Gothenburg locals use for the shopping centre Nordstan in central Gothenburg ('femman'), and how he was going to place a bomb there.

After the woman was questioned, the Swedish security service, Säpo, was called in.

At the station, the arrested individuals were told that they were had been brought in under the suspicion of preparing for terrorist crimes (förberedelse till terroristbrott).

They all denied the allegations and were all released within 24 hours.

The preliminary investigation into the terror suspicions against the men was soon dropped and it wasn’t long before the police's actions were under investigation.

However, the investigation into the conduct of the police was dropped after prosecutor Björn Ericson concluded that, although the incident was unfortunate, no individual could be blamed for the events.

Ericson said that the police were acting under enormous pressure trying to prevent what they believed to be a planned terrorist attack on central Gothenburg.

The problem was that they acted against the wrong people. But no one individual can be blamed for this, said Ericson at the time.

However, according to a report by Sveriges Radio on Thursday, the statements given by the woman regarding the man’s description were vague and somewhat confused.

At one point the witness described the man as “tall, dark skinned, African”. She also said he had “African curly hair”.

But during the same questioning session, the woman also described a man who wasn’t dark skinned, who was fairly short, and who didn’t have curly hair.

At one point in their interrogation notes, officers have concluded that the man is of African descent, only to conclude the opposite a bit further down, according to SR.

Story continues below…

The prosecutor, Thomas Lindstrand, told SR he wasn’t aware of the contradictory statements given by the woman during the questioning. But according to the police, the witness is still a credible source.

“As her statement was the background to the case given to the prosecutor, she has been deemed credible,” Ingemar Johansson, head of the Västra Götaland county police, told SR.

According to Nizar, the family has not been faring so well over the past year. Especially the children have been suffering the consequences of the arrest.

“To see their father lying there, naked and bound, while the police are apprehending him, aiming their guns at him. And dad can do nothing. It is very hard to imagine how a child reacts when seeing something like that,” he told SR.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:12 December 15, 2011 by Iraniboy
Almost same situation in Stockholm airport when they stopped the plane flying from Canada. An unknown woman had called from an unknown phone booth!

My suggestion is that the first thing they should investigate is to see if the person who calls is not ex-boyfriend ex-girlfriend of the victim!
09:20 December 15, 2011 by bourgeoisieboheme
Well I'm glad they are at least doing something... the opposite is to wait or worst case scenario, delay and there is an attack.
09:58 December 15, 2011 by RobinHood
Let's face it. If your name comes up as a possible suspect in a terror investigation. You're going to get a rapid and unpleasant visit from the police. And if it comes to nothing, you're going to get an apology and a pat on the head. And that's the way it should be in a vigilent society under constent terrorist attack.

The concept of investigating the source of the information before investigating the suspect is of course ridiculous. For obvious reasons no police force in the world risks arriving too late because they were were wasting time investigating the source. The slightest hint of an ongoing terrorist threat and it's GO, GO, GO. Several terrorist attacks have been foiled at the last moment because of the speed of reaction of the police. It's lucky for everybody the police didn't spend too long investigating the veracity of the source.
10:14 December 15, 2011 by Iraniboy

Investigating the source of the information if of course important otherwise this would create a loophole so anyone who is tired of someone else may abuse it.

I think it naiv to think that those foiled attacks were product of tip off from unknown sources. I genuinely believe they have been the result of extensive intelligence work rather a random woman calling from random phone booth. It is a common sense that if your source of information is reluctant to provide more information from themselves in such a very important issue then something is very fishy in it!
10:32 December 15, 2011 by RobinHood

You really must inform every police force in the world of your "genuine belief" that they are naive and all doing it wrong. Let us know how you get on.
10:52 December 15, 2011 by Iraniboy

Let's face it! You and those police officers trust an unknown woman calling form an unknown place who refuse to provide her identity but I and many other intelligence officers believe in credible intelligence work. I'd rather let others to judge who is naiv and how is not!
11:00 December 15, 2011 by RobinHood
But you haven't told us how you got on. Why not?
11:12 December 15, 2011 by Keith #5083
Who the hell would want a policeman's job? If they don't act, it's wrong. If they do act, it's wrong. Most of the time people who are not in control of their own lives must blame somebody when it's uncomfortable - so the police get it! Many in society play the adolescent game of thinking it macho to play 'chicken' with the police, especially over alcohol/drugs and driving. Meanwhile the rest of us in society pick up the bits and pieces.

Hindsight from peeps who did not,stress NOT, have to make split-second decisions under enormous pressure are 'virtual reality moments'.

I am truly sorry that these two families were disturbed in this way and hope they can see the broader picture that this action was in the greater service of society, a society I am sure that will not object to some 'inconvenience payment' being made.

I am,however, interested to know if there was other 'intelligence' that rendered this woman's report more believable. I don't suppose, for the safety of the public, we will learn such things.
13:39 December 15, 2011 by Atlas
I agree with some comments above that if indeed it was a terrorist case and police didn't act quickly they would have been blamed for their supposed ineffectivness, however, mistakes do happen, and to make sure this situations doesn't occur anymore or at least to minimize the errors:

1. Police acknowledge their mistake publicly and compensate the innocent

2. Arrest and put behind bars for at least 10 years the supposed informant who provided the contradicted statements that brought terror on innocent humans

3. Publicly declare that anyone willingfully (like an ex bent on making your life miserable) providing false information relating to terrorism activities should be charged with terrorism and may i be bold to suggest to deliver them to CIA so that CIA officers can be trained on torture skills...
15:46 December 15, 2011 by Svensksmith
I have heard that it is a common tactic of terrorists to plant several false rumors to distract the police before the actual event takes place.

Or maybe that's just a false rumor in and of itself.
17:03 December 15, 2011 by Keith #5083
Gandhi said " it is the nature of civil disobedience (nonviolent protest) to provoke a response. They are not in control,we are". More and more, since 9/11, it appears that terrorists have hijacked this philosophy.

There must have been something in the manner and behaviour of the informant that made her believable. On that the police acted. But I bet they were aware of something more.....

Better a 1000 mistakes than one terrorist killing! That, at least, would be my feeling if I was a policeman. I could stand the 'embarrasment' of the mistake in such a circumstance.
23:34 December 15, 2011 by rouzi
Could not police have them under observation before attacking and arresting them?
07:21 December 16, 2011 by Grokh
@Atlas what if someone says they saw something, then the police cant prove if its truth or not, then they arrest the informant, and a few weeks later turns out the informant was right , just turns out the police didnt catch them on the act. lol

stuff like this is a misfortune, been happening for years in brasil , but if people havent done anything then they should just quiet down and obey, no one should try and fight off a police raid even if they are the most innocent person in the world.

just sit down keep quiet and colaborate.

if the person in case didnt do anything then their name will be cleared and in the end they might even get compensated for the mistake.

Its sad children saw it, but children are very smart if you explain to them what happened and why they will grow up fine and well informed.

now if the parents start talking in front of their children that what happened was because they were immigrants and because of their religion and racism yadda yadda the child will grow hating the country and then we have problems like gotemburg had this year with kids setting cars on fire because the police was harassing them... because setting cars on fire is in no way a reason to be harassed by the police -_-x
Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available