The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) has confirmed that it was tipped off about about the 18-year-old man who is suspected of carrying out a deadly knife attack in Turku, South-west Finland, on Friday, 18 August.
The tip-off suggested the man seemed radicalised and had shown an interest in extremist thinking. It included no information about a concrete security threat, however.
Supo on Monday revealed in a press release that it has received more than a thousand similar tip-offs over the past couple of years. While the objective is to look into every single tip-off, it added, the tip-offs have to be prioritised based on whether or not they include information about a concrete security threat.
The tip-off in question was forwarded to Supo in early 2017 by the South-west Finland Police Department.
Supo also revealed that the 18-year-old man was not among the 350 individuals targeted in its counter-terrorism efforts due to their activities, radicalisation or links to known terrorists. The number of such people has risen by over 80 per cent over the past couple of years, according to the press release.
Supo currently uses the majority of its counter-terrorism resources to monitor and gather information about the so-called counter-terrorism target individuals.
The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) on Monday announced that it has issued a detention request for each of the five suspects linked to the rampage in Turku. It is demanding that the main suspect be detained for two counts of murder and eight counts of attempted murder committed with terrorist intent, and the four other suspects for involvement in the said offences.
All five of them are to appear before the District Court of Varsinais-Suomi on Tuesday, according to Helsingin Sanomat. The four secondary suspects have denied their involvement in the attack.
KRP has also issued an international arrest warrant for a sixth suspect.
Information released yesterday by the court confirms that the main suspect is an 18-year-old Moroccan named Abderrahman Mechkah.
Robin Lardot, the director of KRP, confirmed to Helsingin Sanomat on Monday that the main suspect has filed an appeal against a negative asylum decision and that his appeal has yet to be processed by an administrative court.
DW News, the English-language news division of Deutsche Welle, reported that Mechkah is believed to have resided illegally in Germany between late 2015 and early 2016. KRP, in turn, has said he applied for asylum in Finland in the first half of 2016, and resided first at the Pansio Reception Centre in Turku and later in a private residence in Turku.
Information obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) indicates that two of the four other suspects in custody are known to have resided and committed offences in Germany.
Mechkah is suspected of stabbing a total of ten people in downtown Turku, South-west Finland, on 18 August, 2017. Two Finnish women born in 1951 and 1986 lost their lives in the rampage, according to KRP.
The knife-man was apprehended after being shot in the lower body by the responding police officers at 4.05pm on Friday, only three minutes after the alarm was raised.
Aleksi Teivainen - HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva