rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Al Qaeda involved in Sweden's first terror attack?

Al Qaeda involved in Sweden's first terror attack?

Last updated on: December 13, 2010 12:19 IST

Al Qaeda involved in Sweden's first terror attack?

     Next

Next

The blasts in Stockholm indicate a possible link to the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, says B Raman

According to media reports, one person was killed and two others were injured in two incidents in Stockholm on December 11. A car blew up near a crowded street followed by another blast nearby a few minutes later. The Swedish press attributed the second blast to a suicide bomber, but the police said the cause of the blast has not yet been determined.  Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said a 'terrorist attack' which could have been 'truly catastrophic' had failed.

A local news agency, TT, said it had received a threatening e-mail in Swedish and Arabic languages shortly before the blasts, which called for the Mujahideen to rise up in Sweden and Europe. The e-mail reportedly denounced the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed drawn by Swedish artist Lars Vilks and Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan. It warned: "Our acts will speak for themselves. Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying." TT said a similar message had been sent to Swedish Security Service SAPO.

Unconfirmed reports in Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper said the dead man in the second blast was carrying pipe bombs, as well as a backpack full of nails. According to a police spokesperson, the car involved in the first incident had contained gas canisters and had 'exploded with a series of minor explosions'.


Image: A firefighter attempts to put out a fire on a burning car in Stockholm
Photographs: Reuters
     Next

Jihad Jane wanted to kill Swedish cartoonist

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

On March 4, 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had indicted Colleen La Rose, also known as Jihad Jane and Fatima La Rose, on the charge of involvement in a  conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had drawn a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in his paper.

In June 2008, Jihad Jane had posted a comment on YouTube saying she was 'desperate to do something somehow to help' suffering Muslims. According to the FBI indictment, she appeared to have been contacted by Jihadi elements thereafter. The indictment charged that she received a direct order to kill a Swedish resident. She traveled to Sweden and tracked the target with the intent of carrying out the murder.

The FBI identified the target as cartoonist Lars Vilks. In an e-mail message to a co-conspirator, she wrote that she would pursue her mission "till I achieve it or die trying," according to the indictment. The indictment accused her of agreeing, in March 2009, to marry a co-conspirator from a South Asian country who was trying to obtain residency in Europe. He allegedly urged her to go to Sweden, find the Swedish man 'and kill him'. The indictment claimed she tried to raise money over the internet, lure others to her cause, and lied to FBI investigators.


Image: Colleen LaRose, also known as Jihad Jane
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

Ilyas Kashmiri's task for Headley

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The case of Jihad Jane bore a close resemblance to that of David Coleman Headley, of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. She was a volunteer for jihad who was recruited by an unidentified person in South Asia through the Internet and given the task of killing the Swedish cartoonist.

Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade of Pakistan, allied to Al Qaeda, had initially tasked Headley through the Internet to kill the Danish cartoonist who had published cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish paper in 2005. Headley subsequently met Ilyas in North Waziristan. There was no indication that Jihad Jane had met her South Asian recruit to whom she got engaged without ever having met him.

Whoever initially recruited Headley and Jihad Jane seemed to have done so for two reasons. Firstly, both of them were white Americans and they could avoid racial profiling. Secondly, both of them are US nationals with valid passports with which they could travel easily without facing difficulties in obtaining visas and tough immigration norms.


Image: A firefighter attempts to put out a fire on a burning car in Stockholm
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

Double tasks for Jihad Jane, Headley

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Both of them had been given double tasks. Headley was given the tasks of facilitating the operations of the LeT in India and attacking the office of the Danish paper in Copenhagen with the help of sleeper cells in Europe which Ilyas had introduced him to. Headley had played an active role in helping the LeT in carrying out the terror strikes in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Jihad Jane had the dual task of killing the Swedish cartoonist with the help of Ireland-based contacts in Europe and organising acts of terrorism in South Asia.

The FBI revealed the nationalities of her seven accomplices who were picked up in Ireland, but not their identifying particulars. Of the seven arrested in Ireland, two were  Algerians, two Libyans, a Palestinian, a Croatian, and an American woman married to one of the two arrested  Algerians. The FBI documents did not say anything about her South Asian fianc . They were silent even about his nationality. He was described as a man who claimed that he knew how to work with bombs and explosives.


Image: Forensic experts examine the remains of a suspected suicide bomber in central Stockholm
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

Facebook faces the ire of Jihadis

Prev     More
Prev

More

During four days of demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan in the third week of May over what many Muslims regarded as a blasphemous contest on sketches of Prophet Mohammad organised by one of the users of Facebook -- his controversial page was later removed by the social networking site -- religious parties and Jihadi organisations associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban directed their anger against US and Sweden.

During the demonstrations, slogans were shouted against US and Sweden, the flags of the two countries were burnt and calls were issued by religious clerics for the death of the Swedish cartoonist. 

A ruling by the Lahore high court calling for the blocking of Facebook also added to the anger of pro-Al Qaeda elements because it sought to project the US as partly responsible for the perceived insult to the Prophet. It claimed that Facebook operated from the US and was subject to US laws and regulations. The US had, therefore, a responsibility to act against it.

The blasts in Stockholm coming in the wake of what has been stated above indicate a possible link to the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri. In his communications with Headley, Ilyas had claimed to know people in Europe who could assist Headley in attacking the office of the Danish newspaper in Copenhagen. Who are those people? Did they have any role in the Stockholm blasts? Those are among the questions to be investigated by the police.


Image: People pass a bomb blast site in central Stockholm
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     More