An asylum seeker who drove a lorry through crowds of shoppers in Stockholm, killing five people, has said he wanted to build a caliphate.
Rakhmat Akilov stole the beer lorry and swerved wildly through the Swedish capital’s city centre, aiming at pedestrians and mowing them down in April last year.
The 40-year-old Uzbek national has told a court that he wanted Sweden to “end its participation in the fight against the caliphate, to stop sending its soldiers to war zones”.
He said he wanted to “build a caliphate according to Prophet Muhammad’s prophecies”.
“I did this because my heart and my soul aches for those who have suffered from the bombings of the NATO coalition,” he said.
Akilov is accused of spending three months preparing the assault on “infidels” and then swearing allegiance to Islamic State the night before his rampage.
After smashing the lorry into a shop front, he detonated an improvised bomb made up of gas canisters and nails – but it failed to go off as planned.
He escaped by running to a metro station and was picked up several hours later. Akilov has since insisted he had wanted to die as a martyr in an explosion.
The father-of-four, whose family still lives in Uzbekistan, is accused of terrorism and attempted terrorism. On the first day of his trial last week, he pleaded guilty to stealing the truck and driving into people, trying to hit as many as possible.
Three Swedes died in the attack, along with a British man and a Belgian woman. Ten others were injured.
Akilov, who arrived in Sweden in 2014 and had his request for asylum denied in 2016, has not apologised or expressed any remorse.
Prosecutors want him to serve a life sentence, the length of which can vary in Sweden but is an average of 16 years.
One of the focus points of the trial is whether he acted alone. Police do not believe he had accomplices, but they have found that he was in contact with unidentified people on encrypted chat sites before, during and after the attack.
The trial continues.