It is not surprising that the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh brings to the minds of her compatriots the still unsolved assassination of Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme.
Seventeen years ago, on February 26, 1986, he was gunned down, coming out of a Stockholm cinema on his own. His assassins have never been caught.
Anna Lindh was stabbed to death while shopping unaccompanied at a Stockholm department store on September 11. Police recovered from the crime scene blood traces, a knife, a baseball cap and a sweatshirt, apparently left by the assailant before he fled on foot.
Minutes before the murder, the store’s surveillance camera captured the image of a 35-year old man of athletic build wearing a white sweatshirt and a black baseball hat. However, the camera for some reason did not reach the corner where Lindh was attacked. There are therefore no shots of the actual murder.
The head of the inquiry, Stockholm prosecutor Agneta Blidberg, also led the still open 17-year old investigation of the Palme case.
Thursday night, September 18, the Swedish police received the results of the DNA analysis of the items left at the crime scene, but decided not to make them public. The suspect in custody says he did not kill Lindh. He was identified as Per Lof Svensson, aged 35, who, according to the Swedish press, is equally at home in neo-Nazi circles and the upper echelons of Stockholm society. He is described as a football hooligan who beat his mother but is also charming enough to move in circles around Sweden’s 21-year old Princess Madeleine.
Police agents detained him Tuesday night, September 16, in a pub-restaurant next to the Raasunda stadium in Stockholm’s Solna suburb. Interestingly, the dead woman’s husband and two sons were attending a football game at the stadium at the time.
The Swedish police have refused to confirm that the man arrested six days after the crime is the man recorded on the store’s camera prior to the murder of Anna Lindh.
Seventeen years ago, a Swedish suspect, a blue collar worker, was arrested for the murder of the prime minister. The prosecution and police were unable to make the charges against him stick. DEBKA-Net-Weekly intelligence sources stress that this is not surprising since Palme was not murdered by a compatriot. Swedish intelligence has never revealed the truth that he was assassinated by a Kurdish terrorist, a member of the Turkish PKK, who was assigned his mission by Abdallah Ocalan, since captured and serving a life sentence on a Turkish prison-island.
Under interrogation in Turkey, Ocalan confessed to ordering one of his men to kill Olaf Palme. The reason he gave was this: The Swedish prime minister, a socialist and friend of humanitarian causes and repressed minorities, was no more than a gunrunner. He was active in promoting foreign sales of Swedish weapons – heavy howitzers, in particular.
To persuade Iraq and Turkey to buy Swedish guns, he accused Palme of offering both governments intelligence on the internal affairs of the Kurds, some of whom had been granted political asylum in Sweden. Ocalan claimed the Swedish prime minister had written his own death warrant by two-timing the Kurds who trusted him and betraying them to their worst enemies, the Turks.
Some intelligence experts in western Europe, Sweden and the United States are beginning to ask whether the murder of Anna Lindh may not have been a repetition of the Palme affair. While the murdered foreign minister was known for her anti-American views – focusing on George W. Bush – and her championship of the Palestinians and national minorities, Lindh must have been engaged ex officio in the most sensitive and delicate intelligence matters. There is no certainty that her death was not the outcome of this occupation.
The Swedish police too are far from sure they have their killer. Stockholm police chief Carin Goetblad said: “We want to stress that we are working on several parallel leads…which means that we urge the public to continue to call us with more information, both concerning the man… and other leads also. It is very important to continue to think broadly and freely.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources can contribute two items to aid a broad and free approach to the crime:
One, the PKK leader Ocalan announced the resumption of his revolt against Ankara on September 1, ten days before she was stabbed to death. (This was reported in DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 123.)
Two, in advance of Anna Lindh’s state funeral on Friday, September 19, intelligence services are receiving warnings of terrorist plans to assault foreign ministers flying in to pay their respects. Particular targets are American and British officials. At the last minute, secretary of state Colin Powell, using the pretext of the Isabel hurricane buffeting the American east coast, cancelled his trip to Stockholm.
The Swedish police up to Thursday night held tense discussions over whether to postpone the funeral or hold the ceremony secretly at an unannounced site. When the funeral organizers were asked by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources which terrorists were threatening the distinguished visiting mourners, they received a curt reply: “Middle Easterners”