8 April 2017
Last month as reported by the NY Times, Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump that suggested that something terrible had (would) occurred in their country.
During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Mr. Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists.
“You look at what’s happening,” he told his supporters. “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”
Not the Swedes.
Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled.
“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.
As the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet noted, Twitter users were quick to ridicule Mr. Trump’s remark, with joking references to the Swedish Chef, the “Muppets” character; Swedish meatballs; and Ikea, the furniture giant.
Mr. Trump did not state, per se, that a terrorist attack had taken place in Sweden. But the context of his remarks — he mentioned Sweden right after he chastised Germany, a destination for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and deprivation — suggested that he thought it might have.
“Sweden,” Mr. Trump said. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
He then invoked the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris in 2015 and in Brussels and Nice, France, last year, to make an argument for tightening scrutiny of travelers and asylum seekers. “We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country, and there was no way to vet those people,” he said. “There was no documentation. There was no nothing. So we’re going to keep our country safe.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, tried to clarify the president’s remarks Sunday, saying Mr. Trump did not mean to suggest that a particular attack had happened the night before, but rather was talking about crime in general in Sweden.
On Sunday, Mr. Trump offered his own clarification, writing on Twitter, “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”
In that story, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Ami Horowitz, a filmmaker who asserts that migrants in Sweden have been associated with a crime wave. “They oftentimes try to cover up some of these crimes,” Mr. Horowitz said, arguing that those who try to tell the truth about the situation are shouted down as racists and xenophobes.
(Mr. Carlson interjected, “The masochism of the West knows no bounds at all.”)
Mr. Horowitz said, “Sweden had its first terrorist Islamic attack not that long ago, so they’re now getting a taste of what we’ve been seeing across Europe already.”
It was not clear what he was referring to. In 2010, a suicide bomber struck central Stockholm, injuring two people. The bomber, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, 28, was an Iraqi-born Swede who had developed an affinity for Al Qaeda. But that attack occurred long before the current wave of migrants.
Sweden has a long history of welcoming refugees — Jews, Iranians, Eritreans, Somalis, Kurds and people from the former Yugoslavia, among others — but even some of the most tolerant and idealistic Swedes have raised questions about whether the country can absorb so many newcomers so quickly.
- Truck is hijacked and driven into Stockholm department store
- Man ‘arrested and claims responsibility for attack’
- At least four dead and 15 injured
- At least four reported dead and many injured after terror attack
- Witnesses report hundreds of shoppers running for their lives
- Swedish Prime Minister: Everything indicates this is terrorism
- Crash comes after trucks used in Nice and Berlin atrocities
- Suspect reported to be 39-year-old Uzbek father of four
- How a terrorist brought carnage to the streets of Stockholm
A suspected terrorist targeted young children deliberately as he drove a hijacked lorry into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm, witnesses claimed last night.
Infants’ buggies were sent “flying through the air”, one Swedish broadcaster reported, as the vehicle zigzagged along the pedestrianised Queen Street shopping district and embedded itself in the window of a department store.
“It swerved from side to side. It didn’t look out of control, it was trying to hit people,” a second witness, Glen Foran, an Australian tourist, told Reuters. “It hit people, it was terrible. It hit a pram with a kid in it, demolished it.”
A nationwide manhunt was launched and one person arrested after police issued a photograph of a lightly bearded man wearing a hooded top whom they wished to question in connection with the attack, which happened at around 2.45pm local time.
Jan Evensson of the Stockholm police said the man who was arrested looked like the person in the surveillance camera photo.
Aftonbladet, a daily newspaper, reported a man with light injuries had been arrested in north Stockholm after claiming he was responsible for carrying out the attack.
Last night it was reported that the suspected attacker was a 39-year-old father-of-four from Uzbekistan.
Some reports suggested he had previously posted jihadist propaganda on his Facebook page and had images of people injured in the explosion at the Boston Marathon in April 2013.
Early this morning it was reported a second man had been arrested in connection with the attack.
At least four people were killed and another 15 were injured, including children, authorities said.
Nine of the injured were in a serious condition.
Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said everything indicated the incident was terrorism.
It happened less than two weeks after the Westminster Bridge attack, and stirred memories of the attacks in Nice and Berlin where Islamist sympathisers used lorries as weapons – a tactic first suggested in a 2010 directive from al-Qaeda commanders to their Followers.
The attack also came less than two months after Donald Trump provoked a row with Sweden after suggesting that immigration had led to rising crime in the country. [Did Trump have intelligence?]
Television footage showed hundreds of shoppers and office workers fleeing the scene after the lorry careered down the pedestrian precinct, killing a dog and crushing flower pots and litter bins as it went.
“We stood inside a shoe store and heard something … and then people started to scream. I looked out of the store and saw a big truck,” Jan Granroth told Aftonbladet.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “deeply concerned”. “Britain’s thoughts are with the victims, their families and the whole of Sweden,” he added.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, expressed his sympathies, saying his city shared a “steely determination with the people of Stockholm that we will never allow terrorists to succeed”.
The European Union and countries across the continent added their voices of support, led by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and François Hollande, the French president, who expressed “outrage” at the attack in a statement from the Elysée Palace. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said that Europe would face down terrorism.
Swedish prosecutors says man arrested on strongest level of suspicion for terror crime
Swedish prosecutors said on Saturday a man detained in connection with a truck attack in the capital had been arrested on the strongest degree of suspicion of committing a terror crime, the Reuters news agency is reporting
Sweden’s legal system has several degrees regarding the strength of suspicion.