January 7, 2011 / 10:07 PM / 8 years ago

Stockholm bomber was trained in Iraq, says official

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq informed the United States about a plot to carry out bombings in Sweden two months before an attack in Stockholm by a man trained in Iraq, an Iraqi security official told al Arabiya television on Friday.

Major General Dhai Kanani, director of Iraq’s anti-terrorism unit, said the man who blew himself up in Stockholm on December 11 had received explosives training in the Iraqi city of Mosul for three months.

He had entered Iraq from Turkey, he added, according to al Arabiya’s website.

He said confessions by al Qaeda members detained in Iraq had also revealed that “an Egyptian national entered Iraq at the same time and received similar training to probably carry out another mission.”

Kanani said that “Iraq had information on bombings in Sweden, which it informed the Americans about before the bombing in Sweden by more than two months,” al Arabiya reported.

He said some detained al Qaeda members had said the group was planning attacks in the United States and Western Europe and “that Sweden was among the targets for an attack at the end of 2010.”

A senior Iraqi counter-terrorism official told Reuters in December al Qaeda was planning attacks in the United States, Britain and Europe around Christmas and Iraq had informed the affected countries. He said then that indications pointed to Sweden.

Taymour Abdulwahab, a Swedish national of Middle Eastern decent, is believed to have been killed in a botched attack on downtown Stockholm after a bomb belt he was wearing went off prematurely.

Police believe he was preparing to attack a train station or department store at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

Europe has been on an elevated terrorism threat since late last year. On Friday, security sources and the BBC said the British government had warned the aviation industry of a possible al Qaeda attack.

Counter-terrorism advice to the transport sector had updated the threat to “severe,” meaning an attack was considered highly likely, a British security source told Reuters, although there was no intelligence of any imminent assault.

Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Diana Abdallah; editing by Andrew Roche

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