The deadly truck attack in Stockholm could have been caused by poverty and religious oppression in 88 per cent Muslim Uzbekistan, homeland of the reported attacker, Sweden’s national state broadcaster has explained.
Sveriges Television (SVT) Russia and central Asia correspondent Elin Jönsson wrote on Saturday that while authorities “know nothing yet about the motive” for the attack, “many young people in Uzbekistan are poor, and become easy prey for Islamist organisations.”
Local media reports that the Uzbek man, who was working in Sweden’s construction industry, had posted Islamic State propaganda on Facebook and liked pictures of casualties after the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon in 2013.
But Ms Jönsson argued that people from Uzbekistan are drawn into jihad because the nation is “one of the world’s most closed countries”, allowing “neither religious or political freedom” and suffers from widespread poverty.
“Poverty is widespread and the educational system has collapsed. Many young people are desperate and unable to support themselves financially,” she wrote.
Describing Uzbekistan as “extremely oppressive”, the SVT correspondent asserted that the policies of former Soviet republics to limit religious practice “led to a radicalization of many Muslims.
“Many have sought asylum in other countries because of religious and political oppression,” Ms Jönsson added.
However, according to Dagens Nyheter, the suspect traveled to Sweden to make money, and was described as a ‘typical family man’ who ‘worked hard to make money for the family.’
A source told the newspaper: “He just wanted to make money, that’s why he was in Sweden and worked as a construction worker. His wife and children still live abroad.”
Four people were killed and many more injured as a result of the attack, in which a truck ploughed into pedestrians in a busy shopping street in Stockholm.
Reports have claimed investigating officers found explosives in the hijacked vehicle, and an eyewitness told Reuters that the truck was deliberately steered towards people and could have intentionally targeted children.