Stockholm Attack Suspect: Uzbek ISIS Sympathizer Who Was Rejected for Asylum

Uzbek man, who was arrested hours after attack that killed four, had been wanted for deportation since December

Police officers patrol on April 9, 2017 near the point where a truck drove into a department store in Stockholm, Sweden.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP

An Uzbek man suspected of ramming a truck into a crowd in Stockholm, killing four people, had expressed sympathy for Islamic State and was wanted for failing to comply with a deportation order, Swedish police said on Sunday.

Another 15 people were wounded on Friday when a hijacked beer delivery truck barreled down a busy shopping street before crashing into a department store and catching fire. The Uzbek was arrested several hours later.

"We know that the suspect had expressed sympathy for extremist organizations, among them IS," Jonas Hysing, chief of national police operations, told a news conference, using an acronym for the militant group.

In Europe, vehicles have also been used as deadly weapons in attacks in Nice, Berlin and London over the past year and were claimed by Islamic State. There has been as yet no claim of responsibility for the Stockholm assault.

The Stockholm suspect, aged 39 and from the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, applied for permanent residence in Sweden in 2014. But his bid was rejected and he was wanted for disregarding an order for his deportation, Hysing said.

Police had been looking for him since the Nordic country's Migration Agency in December gave him four weeks to leave the country. He had not been known as a militant threat by the security services before Friday's attack.

Two of the dead were Swedes, one was a British citizen and the other from Belgium, Hysing said.

Judicial officials said a second person had been arrested in relation to the investigation into the attack. But police said they were ever more convinced that the Uzbek man was the driver of the commandeered truck and may have acted alone.

People gather on April 9, 2017 at a makeshift memorial near the point where a truck drove into a department store in Stockholm, Sweden.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP

Another five people were being held for questioning after raids during the weekend and police said that they had conducted about 500 interviews as part of the inquiry.

Of the wounded, 10 remained in hospital, two of them in intensive care.

In neighboring Norway early on Sunday, police set off a controlled explosion of a "bomb-like device" in central Oslo and took a suspect into custody. Police across the Nordic region went on heightened alert after the Stockholm attack.

Stockholm was returning to normality on Sunday with police barricades taken down along the Drottninggatan street where the attack took place.

Hundreds of flower bouquets covered steps leading down to the square next to where the truck ploughed into the Ahlens department store, with more piled up under boarded-up windows.

A memorial service was planned in Sergelstorg, the central square next to Drottninggatan, at 2 P.M. 

Sweden has long taken pride in its tolerant liberal democracy and been among the world's most welcoming nations to immigrants.

But some Swedes are having second thoughts after more than 160,000 people, many from Syria, applied for asylum in 2015 in a nation of just 10 million.

The Ahlens store cancelled a planned half-price sale of smoke-damaged goods on Sunday and apologized to customers after a storm of protest on social media that such a step would be disrespectful to the attack victims.