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NBI: Turku attack suspect had two alternative targets

Finland's National Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday that the main suspect in the Turku knife attack had two alternative targets and did not deliberately target only women. Police believe the suspect, Abderrahman Bouanane, was in possession of ISIS propaganda and sought a martyr's death.

Hiljainen Turun kauppatori perjantaina 18. elokuuta 2017.
Abderrahman Bouanane stabbed ten people, killing two, at Turku's market square on 18 August. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The Moroccan suspected of killing two people and injuring eight in a stabbing attack in Turku last month had two alternative targets, according to the lead investigator on the case.

At a meeting with journalists on Thursday, Robin Lardot of the National Bureau of Investigation told journalists that Abderrahman Bounane had at least two other possible attack plans when he struck at Turku's market square on 18 August.

Although his knife attack targeted only women, Lardot said that the other plans would probably have led to attacks on men. There had been speculation that the attacker had deliberately targeted women.

Bouanene has admitted his actions in stabbing the victims, but denied the charge of murder with terrorist intent.

Several plots

One of his other plots was to be executed on the same day as the Turku stabbings, while the other would have taken place on another day, according to the NBI.

Police have in their possession a manifesto, which is being analysed by several translators to try and avoid linguistic errors. They obtained the manifesto the night after the killings, and as a result upgraded the murder inquiry to a terror investigation.

Police also obtained a video in which Bouanane read his manifesto, including citations from the Koran, outside Turku cathedral before sending the video to a group chat on an instant messaging service.

Lardot said that the suspect did have in his possession ISIS propaganda, but they suspect he was radicalised in the weeks and months leading up to the attack. In any case, police believe radicalisation occurred after they were warned of Bouanane's extremist sympathies in January.

Sought a martyr's death

The NBI says it looks as though the suspect would have continued his rampage unless he'd been stopped by police with a shot to the hip. He was seeking a martyr's death, according to the NBI. They do not expect their investigation to be completed quickly.

"The preliminary investigation will continue for several months," said Lardot. "The language is a challenge, as a large proportion of the material we need to examine is in Arabic."

The suspect arrived in Finland as an asylum seeker in spring 2016 and received a negative decision later that year. 

The attacker's alternative plans were first reported by Helsingin Sanomat.

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