NBI: Turku Suspect Planned Alternate Attacks

Police say the sole suspect in custody for the knife rampage last month in Turku had planned two alternate attacks. 

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Flowers and candles in Turku / Credit: @turun_poliisi Instagram

Police say the sole suspect in custody for the knife rampage last month in Turku had planned two alternate attacks.

Speaking on Thursday night, the head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Robin Lardot also said that Abderrahman Bouanane did not explicitly choose his victims because they were women, but instead he chose them randomly.

Lardot revealed that Bouanane had scheduled alternate attacks the same day, or possibly on another day although he wouldn’t say what the targets might have been.

“He was close to conducting one attack on the same day, but didn’t go through with it because there were too many people” Lardot told a Ministry of Interior conference.

“The preliminary investigation has progressed efficiently. The police have a precise idea of the events before and during the attack” Lardot says, describing Bouanane as cooperative.

Two women were killed, and eight other people were injured in the knife rampage in Turku city centre on Friday 18th August. Of those injured, six were women.

Police say Bouanane would have continued his stabbing spree until the police killed him.

“At that moment, the suspect, who had studied IS’s propaganda, was trying to die as a martyr” says NBI chief Robin Lardot. “This is probably the reason why no organizations have claimed responsibility for the attack, because the suspect survived” he adds.

Suspect’s Manifesto

From studying Bouanane’s ‘manifesto’, police now know that it was written down, then read aloud for a recording. According to police, he released the video manifesto on an instant messaging service just before the attack.

Lardot says his officers are investigating the members of that instant messaging group, and the content that has been posted. He wouldn’t say which messaging service, except that it was in Arabic, and is not particularly popular with Finns.

Police discovered the manifesto the night after the attack, and that prompted them to add terror-related murder charges to the case.

According to Lardot, Bouanane was radicalised weeks or months before the attack, although they had already received a tip in January about him.

Turku Attack Timeline

Investigators have been building a detailed timeline of events around the attack. The first calls to the police emergency centre came at 16:02 that afternoon. Just three minutes later, police shot the suspect in the leg.

“The police have a careful picture of the course of events before and during the attack” says Lardot. They also received footage of the stabbings, and have had extensive cooperation with different countries, and with Europol.

Lardot says Moroccan authorities helped identify Bouanane, who had lied about his name and age when he arrived in Finland as an asylum seeker in 2016.

“Probably he has stated that he is a minor for better treatment” says Lardot.

According to police, his asylum application was rejected at the end of 2016, and he appealed the decision.

Language Challenges

The preliminary investigation into the attack and Bouanane will take several months, according to Lardot.

“A challenge is the language. Most of the material to be reviewed is in Arabic” he says.

Investigative responsibility for this case was transferred from the local police to the National Bureau of Investigation because it was a local officer who shot the suspect in the leg.

Turku’s Turun Sanomat newspaper reported that Bouanane was move from the prison hospital to Starrbacka prison in Turku on Wednesday.