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Stockholm terror suspect was "hard-working, disgruntled", say friends

Published onsdag 12 april kl 11.33
Akilov acquaintance: He had an affinity for IS
(1:46 min)
A sketch from Stockholm District Couty yesterday, where Akilov faced a pre-trial detention hearing
A sketch from Stockholm District Couty yesterday, where Akilov faced a pre-trial detention hearing Credit: Johan Hallnäs/TT

Rakhmat Akilov was not a pious muslim but did advocate violent extremism, an acquaintance of the 39-year old terror suspect says.

An acquaintance of the man suspected of carrying out Friday’s terror attack in central Stockholm, describes the 39-year old Uzbek, who was formally detained by police yesterday, as a hard-working, sometimes disgruntled man.

 ”I told him not to lose faith. That my situation is a hundred times worse than yours. I have nothing and if I go back home I’ll be thrown in jail and possibly even beaten to death. But you’re still young and can start over,” Farshad, who has a different name, told Swedish Radio during an interview in a Stockholm suburb.

“But he just listened and didn’t say anything,” he added.

Farshad said the suspect, Rakhmat Akilov, was separated but that he’d made a decent living as a welder back in Uzbekistan, before ending up in Sweden somewhat haphazardly.

Akilov’s request for asylum was rejected by Swedish authorities in June of last year. By then, his behavior had become increasingly erratic, friends of Akilov told Swedish Radio. He had begun to move in circles where drugs and petty crime were common. 

According to Farshad, Akilov was not very knowledgable about Islam nor pious, but he expressed an affinity for the Islamic State and advocated violent extremism.  

Still, Farshad never heard Akilov discuss the possibility of carrying out an attack himself. Now he bitterly condemns his fellow countryman for attacking people who had done him no harm.

“If I could talk to Rahmatullo (the formal version of Akilov’s first name) now, I’d ask him if he believes he’s accomplished anything,” he said.

Farshad adds that Akilov possibly wouldn't answer.  What would make an impression on him, would be if Akilov was sent home.

"We have a prison called Jaslyk, in Karakalpakstan. Few come out of their alive."

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