The government of Uzbekistan is claiming they previously flagged to Swedish authorities that the Uzbek national behind the Stockholm terror attack was an Islamic State recruit.
Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said Friday that Uzbek security services had told Swedish authorities 39-year-old terrorist Rakhmat Akilov had links to Islamic State well before the attack that claimed the lives of four people. He said the failed asylum seeker had been recruited after he moved to Sweden in 2014, Reuters reports.
“According to the information that we have, he actively urged his compatriots to travel to Syria in order to fight at Islamic State’s side,” Kamolov said.
“Earlier (before the attack), information on Akilov’s criminal actions had been passed by security services to one of our Western partners so that the Swedish side could be informed.”
Reuters claims a source within the Uzbek security services said the failed asylum seeker had attempted to travel to Syria, from Turkey, in 2015 to join Islamic State but was caught before he could enter and was sent back to Sweden. Another source told Russian media the same information this week.
Hundreds of individuals from Sweden have attempted to or have been successful in joining the terror group in Syria and Iraq. Reports have even shown some 300 Islamist fighters were receiving money from the Swedish government through welfare payments and student loans.
One suspected Islamic State fighter had earned as much as £4,300 in welfare payments as he fought alongside other jihadists against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo.
In reaction to the terror attack, Swedish politicians and media have discussed how to prevent another happening in the future. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the mass migration policies of the past few years are over and that Sweden would look toward a more conservative stance on immigration.
Others have had different, and often bizarre, reactions including a journalist from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet who said the way to stop terror attacks was to ban cars from city centres. Editorialist Eva Franchell called cars “effective murder machines” and said that “vehicles have been allowed to dominate our cities for decades and it’s the people who need space. It’s vital now that cars be regulated”.
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