Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister of Sweden, has pledged to change policies that supported mass immigration after it was determined the terrorist responsible for the attack in central Stockholm was a failed asylum seeker. The attacker was being sought for deportation after his final appeal for asylum was rejected, but evaded officials by providing an inaccurate address.
Rakhmat Akilov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, requested asylum in Sweden though was not permitted to stay. After a final appeal failed in December, Akilov was given four weeks to leave the country. Instead, Akilov, 39, remained in Sweden, hijacked a truck, and intentionally drove into pedestrians in a shopping district in Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Löfven said, “Sweden will never go back to the [mass migration] we had in autumn 2015, never.” He continued, “Everyone who has been denied a permit should return home.”
Löfven expressed his frustration, adding, “If you have been denied a visa you are supposed to leave the country.”
Akilov reportedly told police the attack was carried out on the orders of the Islamic State, a group he had expressed support for along with Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group that operates worldwide. He was reported by a newspaper in Sweden as saying, “The bombings in Syria must stop.”
Police sources said an explosive device was found in the hijacked truck, but it failed to detonate during the attack. The bomb contained gas canisters, nails, and chemicals.
He was later found near the international airport thanks to tips from the public about a man acting strangely in Marsta, a suburb of Stockholm.
Akilov allegedly confessed to the crime, telling investigators he was “pleased” with his work and “accomplished what he set out to do.”
Thousands attended a vigil near the site of the attack, laying flowers, toys, and candles in remembrance of the victims. Löfven has also visited the site.
SAPO, a Swedish intelligence agency, stated Akilov had been on their radar prior to the attack. The construction worker and father of four had applied to the Swedish migration board in November 2014, requesting a residency permit, though was turned down in June 2015.
During an interview with a local employer, Akilov allegedly stated he was an expert in the field of explosives. He was also associated with local leaders from the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir and was known to share ISIS propaganda.
Local police say there are more than 3,000 migrants living in the Stockholm area illegally.