The Uzbek man arrested in the terrorism rampage in central Stockholm last week was an asylum seeker whose application was rejected and who in December was given four weeks to leave the country, the Swedish police said on Sunday.
The 39-year-old suspect had shown “sympathy for extremist organizations,” the police said. He applied for permanent residency in 2014, and the Swedish Migration Agency denied his application in June 2016, officials said.
The police tried to find him in February of this year to execute the exit order, but he had gone underground, becoming a wanted man, said Jonas Hysing, the national strategic commander, at a news conference at the Stockholm police headquarters.
“We know that he has shown sympathy for extremist organizations like I.S.,” Mr. Hysing said, referring to the Islamic State terrorist group.
On Friday, the man was arrested in connection with an attack in which a beer truck was stolen and used to mow down a crowd of people, killing four and injuring 15 others.
On Sunday, the police released more information about the victims after informing their next of kin. The dead included two Swedish citizens, one Briton and one Belgian, said Jan Evensson, the strategic commander of the Stockholm police.
A police spokesman, Kjell Lindgren, said a second person was being held on suspicion of participating in the attack.
The assault, in a city known for its tolerance and open society, came after the Swedish Security Service, or Sapo, warned in March in its annual security report that a terrorist acting alone was likely to attack somewhere in the country within a year.
Hans Brun, a security expert with the Swedish Defence University, said the police had been preparing for such an assault for a long time.
“Unfortunately, this type of low-tech attack is something we have been discussing for years,” he said, adding that the police, Sapo and other government agencies had been honing their routines for years, resulting in a well-coordinated response on Friday.
“They put Stockholm under lockdown quite quickly,” Mr. Brun said in a phone interview. “They shut down the subway. They found the perpetrator quickly and, obviously, had some reliable intelligence quite early on.”
The danger is not only that this type of attack is hard to discover and stop in advance, he said, but also that there are so many people who are willing to do it.
“Given the information that the Swedish Security Service has been providing in recent years, there are a couple of hundred people in Sweden who have the capability and the will to carry out these type of attacks,” he said.
These are people tied to extremist ideas that span the entire political spectrum,” Mr. Brun added. “Prevention is the million-dollar question,” he said. “You cannot monitor everyone all of the time.”
Since 2010, when Taimour Abdulwahabal-Abdaly, a disaffected Iraqi Swede, blew himself up on a side street just yards from where Friday’s attack took place, the threat level in Sweden has been three on a scale of five, where three indicates the possibility of an attack and five represents the most serious threat.
Magnus Ranstorp, the head of terrorism research at the Swedish Defence University, said that while it was nearly impossible to deter these types of attacks, more could be done, including sharpening laws to deter potential terrorists.
“You need legislation that bites and is effective,” he said. “And that may be solved by criminalizing associating with a terrorist organization.”
He said not enough was being done to work with radicalized environments.
Sweden has tightened its laws in recent years to prevent terrorism, and more is in the pipeline, said Anders Ygeman, the nation’s interior minister.
“We have taken the first step, criminalizing traveling to and fighting with a terrorist organization in another country or receiving terrorist training,” Mr. Ygeman said. “The next step is criminalizing participation that is not linked to killing — for example, being a chef for or supporting a terrorist organization in another way other than being a part of killing or making bombs.”
Mr. Ygeman said there was broad support for this kind of law.
As many as 300 people have gone from Sweden to Syria or Iraq to fight with the Islamic State, according to Sapo, and about half that number have returned. So far, there is nothing to indicate that the man in custody is a returnee or had been fighting alongside extremists, Mr. Ygeman said.
But the Stockholm police said the man had been able to elude the authorities’ attempts to deport him by giving them an incorrect address.
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