by Florian Flade
“It would have been impossible to tell you who I really was…”
- Suicide Bomber´s Martyrdom Message
Taimour Abdulwahhab al-Abdali had a Swedish passport. He immigrated to the Scandinavian country with his parents in 1992, shortly after the 1.US-Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. As a refugee and asylum seeker the then 10 year-old Iraqi national became a Swedish citizen. Now – three days after he carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of Sweden in the streets of Stockholm – it seems, al-Abdali might also have been the citizen of a very different nation, a fictional phantasy-state called “Islamic State of Iraq”.
Without any doubt, the bomber lived a double-life, a secret life of an Islamist fanatic who wanted to bring bloodshed to the European nation that once granted him asylum. Al-Abdali´s story just begins to unravel and could paint a disturbing picture of the young Iraqi immigrant and family father Taimour that became “Abu Amira”, a possibly al-Qaeda guided terrorist luckily failing to achieve his goal of killing innocent Westerners.
What is known about the Stockholm suicide bomber is actually very little, except from the information he himself revealed in the months and weeks prior to his deadly act of suicide on Saturday over social network Facebook and a Muslim dating website. Much remains speculation, sometimes promoted by media and news agencies.
Fact is, Taimour al-Abdali was born in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on December 12th 1981. As a family of refugees he fled with his parents and his older sister Tamarra to Sweden in 1992. Taimour became Swedish citizen the very same year he moved to his new home country. The family settled in Tranås, a town in Jönköpings Province in the South-East of Sweden.
Growing up as a immigrant-youth Taimour embraced the Western lifestyle of liberal, modern Sweden. He was wearing Western fashion, always styled his hair, loved Baskedball and began to chase girls in his teenage years. Once, a friend recalls, he even dated a Jewish girl from Israel in college. The young Iraqi would go out alot, drinking beers in his favorite Tranås bar and attend parties. Still, after a few years of struggling, he learned to adapt to school life and achieved good marks. Teachers remember him as a “quiet student”.
In 2001 after graduating Holavedskolan College, al-Abdali decided to move to Great Britain and study Sports-Therapy at Bedfordshire University. The then 19 year-old moved from small town Tranås to immigrant-flushed British town of Luton. In Luton, a city with approximately 40 Percent immigrants (15 % Muslim) among the 185,000 population, most of them of Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi origin, Taimour al-Abdali somehow came in contact with extremist Muslim circles. The Swedish student changed his behavior, discovered the religion he was born into and embraced a very new lifestyle, that a Muslim fundamentalist.
While in Britain, al-Abdali met a Romanian Muslim woman named Mona T.. The two fell in love and married in 2004, the year in which Taimour got his Bachelors degree in Sports Therapy from Bedfordshire University. In the years to come al-Abdali worked in Luton and fostered two daughters with his wife. The couple lived the life of devout Muslims, sticking to their religion, attending mosque prayers, fasting during Ramadan. Al-Abdali´s overseas stay has turned the party-loving teenager Taimour from Sweden into a faithful Muslim worshipper.
Several times, Taimour al-Abdali, went to Luton´s Islamic Centre. The mosque´s officials and fellow worshippers remember the friendly Swedish of Iraqi origin. “At first he was very popular as he was helpful and polite. He then started preaching, though – and that’s when it went wrong. After early morning prayers he started preaching about Islamic countries that helped the West, like Saudi Arabia, and called for a revolution there”, Farasat Latif the secretary of Luton Islamic Centre tells.
“One day during morning prayers in the month of Ramadan – there were about 100 people there – the chairman of the mosque stood up and exposed him, warning against terrorism, suicide bombings and so on”, Latif recalls, “He knew it was directed at him. He stormed out of the mosque. His radicalism came from certain websites that preach extremist views.”
The Islamic Centre´s chairman Qadeer Baksh says, he did not call the police because he did not want to put Taimour in danger. “The community did not know that he would take it so far as to then sow the seeds of discord and extremism”, Baksh tells British media.
Other people working in the mosque also tell about the change of al-Abdali´s behavior. One even remembers he heard, al-Abdali went to Yemen in 2007 or 2008 and stopped in other Middle Eastern countries during that trip to listen to lectures and study religion. Investigators now believe Taimour Abdulwahhab al-Abdali travelled to the Middle East several times, not only visiting one country but a whole range of countries.
It was also in 2007, Taimour al-Abdali returned to Sweden after being away for six years. It is unclear wether he also brought his family then. Friends and former school mates remember he was a “changed man”, had grown a full beard and talked about religion and politics. “He talked about Afghanistan and religion and did not want to hang out with his friends”, a friends says. Taimour´s parents were worried about their son´s behavior and his devout religious ambitions but in the end they thought the mid-twenty man was just going through a phase.
Al-Abdali, a studied therapist could not find a job in Sweden and worked in a plastic factory near his hometown of Tranås. It did not take long for al-Abdali to quit the job and move back to Britian. Tranås was to small for the Arabic, English and Swedish speaking family father. Taimour became depressed and announced he wants to settle in London.
Back in Britain, neighbors in Luton never noticed anything suspicious about the Muslim family al-Abdali living in three-bedroom semi-detached house. They saw Taimour play in the garden with his daughters, greeting neighbors and never behaving odd or strange. His wife worked as a beautician while Taimour was employed in a carpet shop and had some other smaller jobs helping him to support the family.
Taimour´s wish was his family to grow. So he set up a contact profile at Muslim dating website Muslima.com in 2009 to search for a second wife. “I want to get married again and would like to have a BIG family”, he wrote, “My wife agreed to this. I´m looking for a practicing Muslim, Sunni, love children, and wants to please Allah before me.” Al-Abdali further states: “I can´t say I´m rich, but alhamdulillah not poor.” In the future he would like to move to an Arabic country and settle there. “Hope you are a strong believer and strive for jannah (paradise)”, the Swedish-Iraqi wrote about his future wife, “If you have one or more the Prophet recommends please get in touch with me.”
Eventhough his strong religious belief is clearly documented by his writings and information, the pictures he uploaded to Muslima.com show a young man with modest beard, dressing in suite and shirt – anything but a radical Salafi look.
But on the Internet, the Iraqi immigrant son established a second life, promoting violent Jihad and spreading video material about war crimes against Muslims in the Caucasus, Iraq and at Guantánamo Bay prison. It was mainly Youtube videos al-Abdali linked to Facebook, none of them unsually outstanding or violent. His profile picture was a photoshop scene of an Islamic warrior putting the flag of the al-Qaeda organization “Islamic State of Iraq” on a mountain, Jerusalem in the background. Al-Abdali joined some Facebook groups, including “I love my Apple iPad”, “National Geographic” and “Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi” (imprisoned Jordanian Jihad ideologue) and also stated he likes the “Islamic Caliphate State”. There was even other, non-Jihadi material that was set up on his Facebook site, including a video of a woman obviously behaving weird and funny after taking drugs. “I wish drugs were legal”, al-Abdali wrote.
In spring of this year, Taimour Abdulwahhab al-Abdali again travelled to the Middle East. He spent time in Jordan, pictures he later uploaded onto his Facebook profile show him posing with sunglasses, in the background Jordanian valley landscape near the Red Sea. What he did in Jordan is unclear at this moment.
At that time, Taimour´s wife was pregnant with her first son. The baby was born in June and given the name “Osama”. Eventhough his effort to find a second wife seemed to have failed, al-Abdali´s family grew.
About four weeks ago, end of November, Taimour Abdulwahhab made a visit to Swedish Tranås, telling his parents he wanted to celebrate his birthday on December 12th, the birthday shared by his 61 year-old father Thamer Abdulwahhab. Taimour then bought a car, a Audi 80 Avanti via on Online car trading platform and registered under his real name “Taimour Abdulwahhab”. On the morning of Saturday, December 11th, just one day before his and his father´s birthday, the Sport Therapist left the parent´s house in Tranås and drove to Stockholm.
At about 4 p.m. in the afternoon, a car bomb filled with gas cylinders detonated in the Swedish capital near the Bus station of Drottninggatan close to a busy shopping area of Stockholm. The blast injured two people on the streets and apparently also wounded a man in his late twenties, wearing a Palestinian Keffiyeh scarf and a thick jacket. Only a 300 meters away from the first explosion, a second bomb went off, this time an explosive device strapped to the man´s body. The person was killed by the blast. Police later found five further bombs on Taimour Abdulwahhab al-Abdali´s body that were ripped of the torso by the first explosion and did not detonate. They also found a backpack filled with shrapnel, meant to increase the harm of the exploding suicide vest.
Only minutes prior to the bomb explosions in Stockholm city, Taimour al-Abdali had sent an e-mail containing three audio files to Swedish news agency TT and Sweden´s security police SAPO via his mobile phone. The messages were recorded in Arabic, English and Swedish, containing the final statement of al-Abdali who became Sweden´s first suicide bomber. The sound quality of all three audio files is very low but from noise in the background and the ringing of a second phone close-by it is very likely the suicide bomber recorded his messages inside his car shortly before the attack.
“I´m going to keep this very short and simple”, al-Abdali says in the English version, “to Sweden and to who live in it: you have the pig Lars Vilks and yourselves to blame for these actions. Your quietness to the paintings and your support for your soldiers in Afghanistan brought you to this unpleasant situation (…) Stop your drawings of our Prophet – peace be upon him – withdraw your soldiers from Afghanistan and no more aggressions against Muslims will be tolerated (…) to my wife: Please forgive me if I lied to you, it would have been impossible to tell you who I really was. It was not easy to live the last four years with the secret of being Mujahed or as you call it “Terrorist”.”