Uzbek asylum seeker pleads guilty to Stockholm truck attack

State prosecutors Hans Ihrman, center, and Hans Jorgen Hanstrom during a press conference after the first day of the trial against terror suspect Rakhmat Akilov, who is accused of a terror attack in Stockholm in April 2017, Feb. 13, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Uzbek asylum seeker pleads guilty to Stockholm truck attack

STOKHOLM: A rejected Uzbek asylum seeker pleaded guilty to terrorism charges Tuesday for an April 2017 Stockholm truck attack that killed five people, after going underground in a city he described as full of “infidels.”
Rakhmat Akilov appeared handcuffed in Stockholm’s special high-security courtroom, wearing green prison clothes and with a shaved head and a beard, accompanied by his lawyer Johan Eriksson.
Akilov, whose Swedish asylum application had been denied in 2016, had sworn allegiance to Daesh on the eve of his assault in one of Europe’s safest cities, though the group never claimed responsibility.
On the afternoon of Friday, April 7, Akilov stole a beer delivery truck and barrelled down a bustling pedestrian shopping street, swerving wildly to hit as many people as possible.
Three Swedes were killed, including an 11-year-old girl, as well as a 41-year-old British man and a 31-year-old Belgian woman. Ten others were injured.
Rakhmat “Akilov took the truck ... and drove it... He killed five people and physically injured 10,” his lawyer Johan Eriksson told the court adding: “The lives of a large number of people were put in danger.”
“The motive was to instigate fear and to get Sweden to end its participation in the coalition in the war against Daesh,” Eriksson added.
Akilov, who turns 40 on Wednesday, ended his rampage by crashing the truck into the facade of a department store and detonating an explosive device — made up of five gas canisters and nails — though it didn’t explode as planned and caused damage only to the truck.
Akilov fled the scene by running into a nearby metro station, and was arrested several hours later thanks to public transport video surveillance images.
He told investigators he had planned to die in the assault and confessed in police questioning. Investigators believe Akilov acted alone.
Uzbek police claim he tried to enter Syria from Turkey to join IS in 2015, but there is no proof of that.


Japan deepens Southeast Asian ties with airmen program

Updated 20 min 48 sec ago
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Japan deepens Southeast Asian ties with airmen program

  • The program hopes to promote shared values and interoperability among Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and airmen of ASEAN countries

SINGAPORE: Japan’s defense minister says he plans to start a program for professional airmen to strengthen ties between his country and Southeast Asia.
Takeshi Iwaya says the program fits in with the government’s vision to raise defense cooperation with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has “gained momentum” since it was announced in 2016.
The program hopes to promote shared values and interoperability among Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and airmen of ASEAN countries.
Iwaya did not give details on when it will be launched or its frequency. He was speaking on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Singapore, which was also attended by regional defense ministers, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Feng.