Place of Birth: Samarkand, Uzbekistan;
Rakhmat Akilov is a rejected asylum seeker and a citizen of Uzbekistan, is the perpetrator of the 2017 Stockholm truck attack who was apprehended several hours later. He had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State in a self-recorded video the day before the attack, and Uzbek authorities said he had allegedly joined the group.
Akilov traveled to Stockholm in 2014, where he submitted an application for asylum. While there, he reportedly communicated with Islamic State recruiters and even became a recruiter himself, encouraging fellow Uzbeks to travel abroad to join the Islamic State.
According to Uzbek foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, Akilov “repeatedly sent propagandist videos to his relatives and other contacts in Uzbekistan, trying to induce them to commit acts of violence against representatives of public authority, leadership, and law enforcement of Uzbekistan.”
In December 2016, Akilov’s application for asylum was rejected, and he was given four weeks to depart the country. However, he did not depart and was consequently put on an official wanted list in February 2017.
A subsequent investigation found photos of downtown Stockholm on Akilov’s cell phone, and a memory card with Islamic State propaganda, including execution videos, that had been in his possession.
Authorities also discovered that Akilov had communicated with others about his intended activities over social media, and had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State on April 6, 2017, the day before the attack.
Terrorist Attack in Stockholm:
Akilov chose to attack during an afternoon as there were many people and tourists in the area. Akilov recorded a number of films in the Odenplan area where he is heard saying that it is time to kill “infidels” and that it grieved him how Muslims in the Levant and Afghanistan were dying. The attack took place at about 14:53 local time.
It began when a truck for the Spendrups brewery was hijacked while making a delivery on the street Adolf Fredriks kyrkogata in central Stockholm. According to a Spendrups press release, the driver attempted to stop the hijacker by standing in front of the truck, but had to jump out of the way and was slightly injured when the hijacker accelerated towards him.
The hijacker then drove the truck at high speed into a pedestrian street, going about 500 metres (1,600 ft) down Drottninggatan, one of Stockholm’s main shopping streets, hitting pedestrians along the way. Witnesses said the hijacker attempted to target children as he zigzagged on the street.
The attack ended when the truck rammed the Ahlens City department store on the corner of Drottninggatan and Master Samuelsgatan. The truck caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused by firefighters. The hijacker jumped out and fled the scene.
A homemade bomb was reportedly found in the truck after it was abandoned by the hijacker. Police sources said the device was found in a bag and had not been detonated, adding that the attacker had been burned by it. National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson later said they had found a suspicious object in the driver’s seat that “could be a bomb or an incendiary device”, and was further investigated.
In January 2018, Akilov was charged with attempted murder, terror-related murder, and endangering the lives of others. Uzbekistan also charged him with involving minors in antisocial behavior, distributing materials that pose a threat to public security, and participation in a prohibited group, though he was ultimately prosecuted in Sweden.
On June 7, 2018, he was found guilty of five counts of terror-related murder, 119 counts of attempted murder, and 24 counts of endangering the life of others. Akilov was given a lifetime prison sentence, which is the heaviest penalty in Sweden and equates to about 18 years. He was also sentenced to be banned from Sweden for life after he completes his prison sentence there.
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