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Doubts grow in Sweden over seized 'terrorist'

The Local · 23 Nov 2015, 10:49

Published: 21 Nov 2015 10:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Nov 2015 10:49 GMT+01:00

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UPDATE, November 23rd 2015: Moder Mothanna Magid was later freed without charge and cleared of all suspicions related to terrorism.
Moder Mothana Magid,  a 22-year-old Iraqi, denied planning a terror attack in an interrogation by Sweden's Säpo security police on Saturday afternoon, his lawyer Ola Salomonsson told Aftonbladet newspaper on Saturday afternoon.
"He denies the crime. There has been a long interrogation. As things look now, there are no more interrogations planned," he said. "He seemed more awake today, he was very communicative."
Magid's Facebook page certainly does not look like that of a terrorist on the run. 
He regularly ‘checks in’, publicly revealing his locations in northern Sweden, including at the asylum accommodation where he was arrested, he shows pictures of a man, perhaps himself, nuzzling a woman, and he posts about his longing for love.
Also, while Swedish police distributed a grainy indistinct photo during their manhunt, Magid's Facebook page openly contains much clearer ones.
"There are a number of things that niggle,"  terror expert Magnus Norell told Expressen newspaper. "This individual was the reason that the threat level was raised from three to four, so presumably he is suspected of planning quite a serious attack. That makes it a bit strange that he was not trying to hide." 
He also pointed out that according to Magid's Facebook page, he had been living in Sweden since September, contradicting the Swedish police's initial information was it was hunting a terror suspect who had recently arrived from Germany. 
"I find it hard to see that he should be so dangerous if he is at home in his apartment with his name on the door," Norell said. 
Magid’s mother, contacted by phone in Iraq on Friday by Sweden’s Expressen newspaper, said that the arrest of her son was a “misunderstanding”, adding that she had been so shocked when she heard of it that she had been briefly hospitalised.  
“It was because of Daesh [ISIS] that he fled,” she told the newspaper. “My son has nothing to do with Daesh."
Magid was arrested on Thursday night in a police operation at asylum accommodation in the northern town of Boliden, after a two-day manhunt, which saw his picture and name published in Sweden's leading tabloid newspapers. 
Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven on Thursday night praised the country's police and security forces for quickly tracking down the suspect. 
“I am impressed by the speed with which the suspect has been found and arrested,” he said. 
However, Magnus Ranstorp, arguably Sweden's leading terror expert, also from the National Defence College, said that it was too early to draw conclusions from Magid's oddly open behaviour. 
"Sometimes it can be better to be open than hidden," he said. "If he was wanted it wouldn't be so smart, but if he had no reason to believe he was on anyone's radar, than he wouldn't have any reason to hide himself." 
Story continues below…
Säpo's press chief, Sirpa Franzen, on Saturday responded to the growing scepticism over Magid's guilt. 
"The investigation work consists of much more than a Facebook profile and a name sign on a door," she wrote on Twitter. "Säpo/the police made a judgement on all the collected evidence and then decided to act." 
Below is an image of a man nuzzling a woman taken from Magid's Facebook Page.
Below is the grainy photo printed in Swedish newspapers on Thursday, and apparently distributed to police during the hunt for the suspect on Wednesday and Thursday. 

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