Monday, August 21, 2017

Terror in Turku, Finland

An eighteen-year-old Moroccan man, Abderrahman Mechkah,  who had entered Finland as an asylum-seeker in 2016 went on a rampage (armed with at least one large knife) in the center of the city of Turku (Åbo in Swedish) last Friday afternoon, hitting a pedestrian street and a busy market square (a bit like a giant farmer's market).  He may have timed his slaughtering to a time when the streets and the square would be full of people coming home from work and/or shopping.

He killed two Finnish women and wounded eight other people, six of them women and two of them men.  The two men had come to the aid of a victim or tried to stop the butcher.  Thus, they were not chosen from random possible victims.

Thus, authorities in Finland argue that he appeared to target women:

Four other Moroccan men detained over possible links to the Turku attack have co-operated with police but their role has yet to be fully established, Granroth added. The main suspect, who had lived in Turku’s immigration centre after arriving in Finland last year, appeared to have targeted women, police said on Saturday.

One of the attacked women was pushing a baby in a stroller.

The police shot the assailant in the leg* and arrested him.  The police operation was swift and efficient as it had been practiced for quite a while.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Office (SUPO) had received a tip about Mechkah as possibly radicalized early this year, but the tip contained no concrete information about plans and seems not to have received priority.  Mechkah was denied asylum in early 2017, because Morocco is not a conflict zone or near one.**

The latter could be the reason why Mechkah (and his possible associates) acted at this time:  He may have faced deportation for not having left the country voluntarily.

Why choose women as the targets?  A Finnish terrorism researcher, Leena Malkin, notes (source in Finnish) that this may have been intended to increase the shock value of the slaughter, may reflect misogyny, may be based on the assumption that women are less likely to fight back,  or on the view that such attacks shame the men in the target population who have been unable to keep "their" women or children safe.  ISIS*** often targets civilians who are deemed particularly vulnerable, as do many other terrorist groups.

We may get more clarity on the so-called reasons for this attempted femicide later.  But an additional possibility is that Mechkah's extreme Islamist ideology doesn't believe that women should be out and about without male guardians and unveiled.  He might have wanted to create a specific terror in women which would keep them at home, because that is one step toward the kind of world ISIS desires.

*  According to one eye-witness (source in Finnish)  a young Afghani asylum-seeker who tried to apprehend the assailant, the police had to shoot him as he was just preparing to cut the throat of yet another female victim.

**  The asylum application system has a severe problem in that there's no quick initial examination to decide on which cases are obviously without merit, based on the international agreements on the causes which justify getting asylum.  Note that dire economic need or the search for a better life is not one of those causes.

Individuals from countries which are not conflict zones or known to oppress certain demographic or religious groups can still apply for asylum and stay in the new host country for a longish period of time, even though everyone knows that they will not ultimately qualify for asylum.  Processing those cases,  financially supporting the applicants (and even paying for their return flights in some cases) takes resources away from other needier cases and endangers the compassion local people feel for refugees.   

***  ISIS appears to have added Finland to the list of the crusader countries, though I'm not sure exactly what Finland has done to justify such a placement.  Finland has never had colonies, but was a colony itself and has not sent troops or weapons to the Middle East.  Rather, it has taken in roughly 30,000 asylum-seekers in 2015 alone. 

But it does have a cross on the flag.  And of course the way ISIS reads the Quran justifies the killing of all infidels wherever they are caught, not just in war against Muslims.