The father-in-law of the Stockholm suicide bomber has denounced the 28-year-old as a brainwashed terrorist and publicly disowned him. His comments came as British and European security experts yesterday sought to calm fears that terror plots against Europe have been planned for the Christmas season.
Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, blew himself up – apparently by accident – last weekend in Sweden. Iraqi officials said that captured insurgents have claimed the Stockholm bombing was part of a series of attacks being planned by al-Qa'ida against the US and Europe over Christmas.
Unnamed US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was specific intelligence about attacks being planned against Europe. But British officials, speaking under the same terms, said that although security officials are on higher alert during the holidays, there was no new specific plot. Britain's terror alert level has remained unchanged.
In a statement, Ali Thwany, Abdaly's father-in-law, wrote "We announce our dissociation with him," and added: "All that happened is a personal matter connected to a rogue person bent on crimes and disillusioned by an unknown group."
He insisted that, contrary to some reports, his daughter Mona had nothing to do with the bomb attack. Abdaly killed himself and injured two people last Saturday when the explosives he was wearing exploded among Christmas shoppers in Stockholm.
Mr Thwany said his daughter had suspicions about her husband's increasingly radical views but had been too frightened to speak out. Referring to Abdaly as "Taimour the terrorist", he added: "We feel no sorrow. On the contrary, I view his departure as the door to freedom for my daughter. Now she can be free from the brainwash of terrorism."
The Iraqi-born Abdaly, who lived in Luton for several years, is one of a growing number of Britons who appear to have been radicalised in the UK and have then gone on to fight or commit acts of terrorism abroad.
The Foreign Office said last night that it is still investigating reports that two Britons were among those killed in a US drone attack on al-Qa'ida fighters two weeks ago. Media reports have named them as Gerry Smith, 25, and Stephen [surname unknown], 48, aka Mansoor Ahmed and Abu Bakar.
David Cameron admitted in Prime Minister's Questions last week that more had to be done to stop the spread of radicalisation. "We have not done enough to deal with the promotion of extremist Islamism in our own country. I think we do have to take further steps. We've also got to ask why it is that so many young men in our own country get radicalised in this completely unacceptable way," he said.
A radically new approach is needed, counterterror experts said last night. Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "This is a problem that Britain exports and it is a great shame that our friends and allies have to suffer. The only way to win this is to use the law enforcement agencies we have and exercise the law. Known terrorists and terrorist funders openly raise money and recruit in the UK and our police and prosecution services do nothing."
The Government's "Prevent" strategy was also criticised by Professor Andrew Silke, from the University of East London. "Doing something like Prevent makes sense, but we simply don't know what works and what's a complete waste of time."
A Home Office spokesman said: "The Prevent programme isn't working as well as it could and that is why we are reviewing it. We want effective and properly focused strategy."