HELSINKI (AP) — Finnish police say the Moroccan asylum-seeker who killed two people and wounded eight others in last year’s stabbing attack in southwestern Finland identified strongly with the Islamic State group and was motivated largely by hatred after heavy bombardments by the Western-led coalition in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Olli Toyras of the National Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday that Abderrahman Bouanane became radicalized some three months before the August 18 attack in the western city of Turku, and although he acted alone, he thought of himself as an IS fighter.
“We don’t think any group is being involved in this,” Toyras said, although adding that the suspect’s phone and computer contained IS-related photos and material. “He has seen himself as a fighter, a soldier, a man of IS. He would have liked IS to have taken credit for the attack.”
On the day of the attack, Bouanane had bicycled from Turku’s outskirts to the city center, bringing along two kitchen knives he had taken from a friend’s home.
He attended prayer at a local mosque before he started a stabbing rampage in Turku’s main market square that lasted some three minutes and left two women dead and eight others — six women and two men — wounded.
Toyras said Bouanane, born in 1994, had picked his victims at random. His initial target had been a Finnish soldier waiting at a bus station but he abandoned the plan as too risky.
Toyras said Bouanane had keenly followed earlier terror incidents in Belgium and France, was willing to die for “a martyr cause” and was waiting to be shot dead by the Finnish police.
The suspect came to Finland in 2016 and saw later his asylum application rejected. But police said that was not considered the main motive.
Following the attack, police discovered a manifesto posted online by Bouanane that was strongly influenced by Muslim and IS world views and contained disparaging references to Western religions.
The case is being investigated as two counts of terror-related murder and eight counts of attempted murder with a terror-related motive.
State prosecutors are expected to file official charges by the end of February.