Stockholm bomber was confronted by mosque leaders

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The Independent Online

The Stockholm bomber was thrown out of a mosque for preaching about suicide bombings and attempting to recruit extremists, religious leaders said today.

Iraq-born Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, 28, lived in Britain for almost a decade after leaving his adopted home in Sweden to study and start a family in Luton.

Muslim leaders in the town said he stormed out when they confronted him as he tried to "sow seeds of discord and extremism".

Farasat Latif, secretary of the Luton Islamic Centre, said the suicide bomber attended for a couple of months in 2006 or 2007.

He described how al-Abdaly was "bubbly" and "well-liked" but harboured increasingly radical and violent views.

Mr Latif said: "It was fed back to the committee of the mosque who explained that his ideas were incorrect. He seemed to accept it. We thought we had led him back to the truth.

"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.

"He knew it was directed at him. He stormed out of the mosque and was never seen again."

Mr Latif added that "nothing pointed to the fact that he was going to do something stupid".

Centre chairman Qadeer Baksh said his teachings were "alien to Islam" and he was challenged by senior members of the mosque.

He described how al-Abdaly argued with leaders and may have been "playing a game" to get access to the wider congregation.

Mr Baksh said: "The community did not know that he would take it so far as to then sew the seeds of discord and extremism'."

Two people were wounded in central Stockholm in the first suicide bombing in the history of Sweden on Saturday afternoon.

Prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand said investigators are "98%" certain the suicide bomber was al-Abdaly, who may have died when his bomb went off prematurely.

The bomber loaded his white Audi with gas canisters and was killed as he made his way to a nearby subway station or department store.

Investigators said he was carrying three sets of bombs, including a rucksack, and had travelled to the country to celebrate his father's birthday.

Mr Lindstrand said the attacker may have wanted to kill people at a nearby subway station or department store.

He said: "He was well-equipped with bomb material, so I guess it isn't a too daring guess to say he was on his way to a place where there were as many people as possible, maybe the central station, maybe Ahlens."

Police have recovered an identity card from the scene and said the badly-damaged car was registered to him.

Email threats sent to security police and Swedish news agency TT before the blasts have been linked to al-Abdaly's mobile phone.

In a chilling audio message, believed to be recorded by al-Abdaly, a man warned "our actions will speak for themselves".

Speaking with an English accent, the extremist can be heard warning that an "Islamic state" has been created and many will die.

The terrorist attacked Sweden's support for the war in Afghanistan and an image by a Swedish artist who depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.

Accusing Sweden of failing to oppose this, he said: "So will your children, daughters, brothers and sisters die, like our brothers, sister and children die.

"Now the Islamic state has been created. We now exist here in Europe and in Sweden. We are a reality.

"I don't want to say more about this. Our actions will speak for themselves."

The man also warned that the "Islamic state" had begun to "fulfil its promises" and warned that the oppression of Muslims "will not be tolerated".

The audio warning echoed a message posted on the Shumukh al-Islam website, which has links to al Qaida, and attributed to al-Abdaly.

According to one US terrorist monitoring organisation, the message read: "[The] Islamic State [of Iraq] has fulfilled what it promised you".

A picture of al-Abdaly appeared on the same website yesterday with a message claiming the "brother" was responsible for the attack.

Al-Abdaly left his family home in Luton around two weeks ago where he lived with his beauty stylist wife Mona and three young children.

They were bundled out of their rented property in Argyll Avenue in the early hours today as officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command began a search.

Investigators have begun scouring through evidence of how an apparently happy family man was radicalised into a fanatic.

Police were also examining his sports therapy studies at the University of Bedfordshire and the clash with members of the mosque.

The Stockholm attack was strikingly similar to two car bombs laden with gas canisters and petrol and left in London's West End in 2007.

In 2007, the late chief of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, called for reprisals against Sweden over cartoons by artist Lars Vilks.

Baghdadi also offered cash for killing the cartoonist and named Swedish companies such as Ericsson, Ikea and Volvo as potential targets to harm Sweden's economy.

Police removed a car believed to belong to al-Abdaly's wife from the house in Luton today.

The dark green 51-plate Nissan Micra was loaded on to a transporter as the street where the suspect lived remained sealed off by police.

Inside the car was a sticker that read: "Amira Makeup & Hair".