Sweden Bomber Planned to Hit Newspaper, Al-Qaida Web Site Says

December 14, 2010 - 12:03 PM

Luton, England (AP) - A website affiliated with al-Qaida said Tuesday the suicide bomber behind the blasts that shook central Stockholm was targeting a newspaper linked to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad but one of his bombs exploded too soon.

Taimour Abdulwahab, an Iraqi-born Swede who spent much of the past decade in Britain, died in the botched attack on a busy shopping street late Saturday, terrifying Christmas shoppers.

A writer on the Shumokh al-Islam website wrote Tuesday that one of the bomber's six gas cylinders in his car exploded prematurely. The writer said the bomber then tried to escape but one of the bombs strapped to his body also exploded too soon.

Neither the writer nor the newspaper was named. Several Swedish papers published the cartoons but Swedish police have declined to say whether any newspapers were the actual target.

The plot has put back into the spotlight the English town of Luton, where Abdulwahab studied at the University of Bedfordshire, then known as the University of Luton. Abdulwahab registered in 2001 and graduated seven years ago with a degree in sports therapy.

On July 7, 2005, four bombers gathered in Luton before taking a train to London and blowing themselves up on the transit system.

Last year, the town was also the site of a small but widely covered protest in which a handful of Islamists picketed a homecoming parade for British soldiers returning from Iraq, holding up signs accusing the men of being "butchers" and "baby-killers."

A top university official defended the campus on Tuesday, saying it is not a center of radicalism.

"We haven't had any cases of extremist activities on campus while I've been vice chancellor," said Les Ebdon, who has had the role since 2003.