BISHKEK (TCA) — Swedish Radio News on May 12 reported it has discovered links in social media between the suspected Stockholm terrorist and a network around a jihadist leader wanted by Interpol for terror financing.
In the months before the April 7 attack on Stockholm’s Drottninggatan street the suspected truck attacker Rakhmat Akilov was active on social media, where he has links to extremist networks. Swedish Radio News, known in Swedish as Ekot, has followed the trail and can reveal that it leads to an extremist jihadist leader.
The setting is the Russian social media website Odnoklassniki, where several Uzbek jihadist accounts spread Islamist propaganda in the months before the attack in Stockholm. The propaganda was collected by an anonymous account that added Rakhmat Akilov as a friend. In that way the Uzbek suspected of the Stockholm attack could access the propaganda.
The material consisted of sermons supporting violent struggle, bloody images from bomb attacks and links to an Uzbek language extremist training website. The instructions on that site included videos showing how to use various weapons.
During Swedish Radio’s work tracing these links Ekot has come into contact with an open source intelligence analyst. For security reasons he goes by the pseudonym Alex Bronstein.
Among other things, he provides information on how extremists use religious Odnoklassniki accounts as go-betweens to connect violent jihadists and possible recruits – especially focusing on Central Asian migrant workers like Rakhmat Akilov. This is something that Ekot has been able to confirm from other sources.
The propaganda in the network that Ekot has looked at keeps leading back to a person who calls himself “Abu Saloh”. This is the highest leader of an Uzbek Islamist group fighting in Syria, with links to Al Qaida.
Abu Saloh is wanted by Kyrgyzstan via Interpol on suspicion of crimes including terrorism act and financing terrorist activity and the Russian website Gazeta.ru has reported that he, according to sources within security service and police, is also the suspected organizer of the attack in Saint Petersburg’s subway, four days before the attack in Stockholm.