On Friday, April 7th, at around 14.53 CEST calls started coming in to the emergency telephone number. What happened just before that and afterwards we know.
The big question is, although this is indeed an actor of terror, is it also an act of terrorism?
I’d say no to that and let’s see just why!
One: Opportunism! There was a delivery truck, maybe with the keys in the ignition, parked on Olof Palmes gata. The perpetrator jumped in, started the engine and pulled out into the traffic. Shortly after this he turns left into Drottninggatan, a pedestrian lane, which he continues up for five blocks before crashing into a small corner entrance of the Åhléns department store.
Two: Meager results! If I was a die-hard terrorist I’d be displeased with “only” four dead and “only” about 15 wounded! It’s not that I’m bloodthirsty, but compare with Berlin, Paris, Nice…
Three: Perpetrator not found on the scene! It’s unusual that people that enact things like this survive, but this one did. They also tend to be armed and, God knows, it’s not hard to come by sidearms, fully automatic guns and hand grenades in this country these days.
Four: No one has claimed responsibility! At least not yet. Possibly ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh will claim responsibility, although, to me, it seems that they sometimes do so just because they can. They may also think that the result was so small it would show incompetence rather than something to boast about.
Five: A suspect man is picked up by the police a number of hours after the deed. He is inside a shop in Märsta, a ways from downtown Stockholm, behaving in such a way that he draws attention to himself. When police arrives, he confesses either to the deed or participation in it. Police apprehends him without further ado and brings him in for questioning.
This suspect turns out to be a 39 year old father of four originally from Uzbekistan working as a labourer in construction. He has, apparently, expressed sympathies for ISIS/ISIL but not sworn himself to “the cause” as far as we know at this time. He has shared images of victims and uploaded ISIS/ISIL propaganda movies to his Facebook account. He appears not to have left behind any testimonial!
It’s still too early to say if the suspect is the perpetrator and, if so, if he acted entirely alone or if he had confidantes.
The suspect has, allegedly, reconnoitered the area. For how long is unknown also if there is any truth at all behind this. We have an issue with personal integrity and the use of CCTV here. There are probably dozens of cameras in that area, but only the “official” ones are allowed to photograph the streets. Shop owners can have cameras but they must not(!) be directed so they can photograph outside the shop.
It seems to me that the lack of planning, pardon me, but I don’t think he managed to plan a delivery truck’s stop for offloading, and the meager outcome shows that this was probably an act at the spur of the moment.
If the suspect is indeed the perpetrator, then he is probably a Muslim, maybe an Islamist who may have been radicalized all by himself. As such he may well have harboured thoughts in this direction for a while. He may also have been quietly planning something like this for a while.
He may also have gone quietly and, possibly, religiously bonkers and responded to voices in his head.
In either way, right now I think that he just suddenly saw an opportunity to act and acted.
Anyways, future will tell if I’m right or wrong!