Sweden hopes for answers from Stockholm terror suspect Akilov

Sweden hopes for answers from Stockholm terror suspect Akilov
Stockholm terror suspect Rakhmat Akilov at the start of the trial in the city's district court. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Sweden is hoping for answers when Stockholm terror suspect Rakhmat Akilov testifies in court on Tuesday, but interpreting his statements will be a complicated task according to a terror expert.

Akilov confessed to driving the truck in the April 2017 attack that killed five and injured several others. It is hoped that he will clarify how the attack came to be when he speaks at Stockholm District court.

“He is sitting on important answers. Who his contacts were, how he was radicalized, who affected him and how it happened. And also how he feels about Isis never claiming responsibility for the attack, because he wants to see himself as one of their soldiers,” Swedish Defence University researcher Peder Hyllengren told news agency TT.

Though Isis has never taken credit for the attack, Uzbek national Akilov swore allegiance to them before stealing a truck and running down pedestrians on the busy Stockholm street in April.

READ ALSO: Akilov pleads guilty to terrorism

Further details of his contacts could be important evidence in proving the accusation of terrorism against him, according to Hyllengren:

“The prosecutor's primary task is to prove that this is about more than five murdered people and a number of injured. That it is part of a broader context, where there's a terrorist motive, and from that perspective his contacts are of interest”.

At the same time Akilov is not expected to provide all of the answers, and even the ones he gives should be treated with caution, the expert warned.

“The question of who he physically contacted remains, and with that I doubt he will say a lot. His words shouldn't automatically be accepted. We'll see what can be confirmed through different roads,” Hyllengren noted.

It is also possible that the terror suspect will choose not to say anything. Hyllengren thinks Akilov's distorted world view means he will see the trial as a way to prove his importance.

“He wants to be remembered as someone who carried out an attack on behalf of Isis. Not as someone who snapped then regretted it. From his perspective it would then have been pointless. From his bizarre worldview, it is a deed with a higher purpose.”

Akilov faces a number of charges, the most high-profile of which are “terrorism and attempted terrorism”. His trial is expected to run until mid-May, with a verdict and sentence predicted by late June.

READ ALSO: Akilov may use trial to spread propaganda, experts warn