February 7, 2018 / 12:25 PM / a year ago

Finland knife attacker saw himself as Islamic State soldier: police

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Moroccan man who killed two and injured nine with a knife in Finland last August saw himself as a soldier for the Islamic State militant group and cited U.S.-led air strikes in Syria as one reason for his attack, Finnish police said on Wednesday.

Abderrahman Bouanane, at the time a 22-year-old asylum seeker, has admitted to the stabbings in what the police see as the Nordic country’s first terrorism-related attack.

“He saw himself as a fighter, a soldier for ISIS. He would have wanted ISIS to take responsibility for this act, but as we know, that did not happen,” Detective Inspector Olli Toyras from the National Bureau of Investigation told a news conference.

“Based on the investigation, we can say he acted alone. You could say as a lone wolf.”

Bouanane arrived in Finland in 2016, lived in a reception center in Turku and had been denied asylum.

He told the police he had started to learn about ISIS three months before the attack.

The police have closed their criminal investigation, and a trial is expected to begin by March.

Following the attack, the government brought to parliament an intelligence bill which would give authorities new powers to monitor people’s online activity and allow intelligence services to track communications beyond Finland’s borders.

In neighboring Sweden, an Uzbek-born man who mowed down pedestrians with a truck last April killing five people told police he wanted to punish Sweden for its part in the fight against Islamic State.

Reporting by Tuomas Forsell and Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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