Further details have emerged about an 18-year-old Moroccan accused of killing two people and injuring eight others in the Finnish city of Turku last week. The suspect temporarily lived in Germany before heading to Finland, where he was denied asylum.
The suspect behind the Friday stabbing attack, which the police are treating as terrorism-related murder and attempted murder, lived in Germany in 2015 and 2016 for several months, German media report citing officials.
The Moroccan man, identified as Abderrahman Mechkah, did not apply for asylum in Germany during his stay, a spokeswoman for Germany’s interior minister told the media on Monday. However, he had been assisted by a civil servant, German officials say, without commenting further.
Mechkah applied for asylum in Finland, however, where he arrived in 2016, Finnish media report. According to Finland’s Yle news, his asylum application was rejected, although he then appealed.
“I confirm that the main suspect has been in the process of asylum-seeking in Finland and the decision he had [previously] received was appealed,”
– Yle cited the head of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (KRP), Robin Lardot, as saying.
Earlier this year authorities in southwest Finland were tipped off on the suspect’s alleged “radicalization and extremist thinking,” according to Yle. However, the tip-off did not contain information about any concrete threat, so it apparently was not investigated further. The Moroccan reportedly was not on Finland’s watch list for possible terrorism-related issues.
“In the past couple of years, authorities have received more than 1,000 tip-offs. We aim to review all [of them], but the scrutiny requires strong prioritization. Priority is given to the tip-offs containing information about a concrete threat,” Yle cited police official Jyri Rantala as saying.
Police are also investigating four other Moroccans in connection with the attack. All of them deny involvement. Pre-trial detention has been requested for five men, including the suspected attacker, Reuters reported on Monday.
The main suspect behind Finland’s first-ever terrorist attack is now in hospital, after he was shot in the leg by police reacting to the stabbing attack. Two Finnish citizens were killed in the attack, with UK and Italian citizens reportedly among the injured.
Commenting on the attack, German politician and EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that while it happened in Finland, it targeted the whole of Europe.
“We Europeans have been attacked together, whether the attacks happen in Turku or Paris, in Stockholm or in London, in Berlin or in Copenhagen,”
– he said in Brussels, adding that European values are being targeted.