What the terrorist attack in Stockholm tells us on a possible new threat and on a terrorist weakness



Two explosions rocked the center of Stockholm Saturday night.


This attack underlines both a new possible threat and a weakness in the global Jihad strategy.



Around 05:00 PM local time (04:00 GMT), a car blew up near Drottninggatan, a crowded shopping street of the capital.



It seems that the car contained several gas canisters and that multiple blasts went off. The explosion slightly injured two people.



A few minutes later, a second explosion occurred near the same location.


Swedish media attributed the explosion to a “suicide bomber”. The presumed bomber was killed on the scene. Swedish media said that the possible suicide bomber carried pipe-bombs and a bag full of nails. But Stockholm police said it is to early to “speculate”.



Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said, in a twitter message, a “catastrophic terrorist attack” had failed.



A Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyra (TT), said it received minutes prior the first blast, an e-mail saying “now it is the time for Swedish people to die like our brothers and sisters”. According to sources inside the press agency, the e-mail refers both to the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and to the Swedish military presence in Afghanistan.



TT said that the e-mail contained a voice-message in Swedish and Arabic and ended with a call for action “to all Mujahadeen in Europe and Sweden”: “Now is the time to strike, don't wait any longer. Step up with whatever you have, even if it is a knife, and I know you have more than a knife. Fear no one, fear not prison, fear not death. »



It seems that the same message was sent to SÄPO (Säkerhetspolisen; Security Police), the local Security Service.



In last October, Stockholm raised its terror threat alert from “low” to “elevated” due to an increasing activity among Swedish based groups that could be plotting attacks in the country but underlined that “no attack was imminent”.



On August 18, 2007, the cartoonist Lars Viks published a caricature of Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s head. In Last March, Colleen Renne LaRose, an American Woman converted to Islam and nicknamed “Jihad Jane” was arrested for plotting the assassination of Lars Viks. Seven possible co-conspirators were arrested in Ireland.


Two months later, arsonists tried to set Fire to Lars Viks’house in South-West of Sweden.



Sweden maintains 500 hundred soldiers in Afghanistan.



If the implication of a suicide bomber is confirmed, it would be the first suicide attack in Sweden.


But this attack tells us something about a possible new global Jihad strategy and on the weakness of the terrorists.



The investigation is only beginning but if the man acted alone, on his own, it could be the sign that the al-Qaeda sympathizers develop a new strategy: small scale attacks performed by an isolated person without connections and with a limited goal. This is extremely dangerous because, obviously, a “lone wolf” is much more difficult to detect than a real terrorist cells with multiple actors involved and contacts with known Jihad organizations. It must be underlined that al-Qaeda called, recently to such kind of attacks to avoid early detection by the security forces.


But there could be a “good news”: if the “new terrorists”, or some of them, can rely only on themselves and on what they learned on internet, most of the attack could failed by “lack of technical knowledge” by the perpetrators.


In this particular case it is interesting to see that the car-bomb used the same technique as the one used in the Time Square failed attack, last spring: gas canisters connected to a detonator. But the fact is that it is extremely difficult to detonate a gas canister and produce a real explosion and not “only” a huge fire.


It seems that the Stockholm terrorist didn’t know this….




© 2012 ESISC - European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center Powered by Advensys