Portugal: Muslim center stabbings not seen as terror attack

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Authorities in Portugal said Wednesday that the fatal stabbings of two women at an Ismaili Muslim center in Lisbon was not being treated as a potential act of terrorism.

Investigators have found no indication the man detained in the knife attack was involved in extremist activities, Luis Neves, the head of Portugal's Judicial Police, said during a news conference.

“There is no sign whatsoever, not one, that suggests this person was radicalized,” Neves said. “This is not being viewed as a terror crime.”

Police said Tuesday they were investigating the stabbings as a possible terror act. At least one person was wounded along with the Portuguese staff members who died.

Local Afghan community representatives have identified the suspect as an Afghan refugee who was known to have psychological problems after his wife died at a refugee camp in Greece.

The man had integrated into Western life and exhibited no radical behavior in his habits, friendships or social media communications, according to Neves.

Authorities said the suspect remained in police custody at a Lisbon hospital and was not expected to appear in court for a week or more. Police reported Wednesday that he was shot when ignored an order to surrender and advanced toward the officers who responded to the Muslim center.

Portuguese Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro said Tuesday the man arrived in Portugal through a European Union program that transfers asylum-seekers to member countries to help relieve pressure on Mediterranean nations such as Greece and Italy.

He said the man’s wife died in a refugee camp in Greece, leaving him to care alone for three children, ages 9, 7 and 4.

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, generally known as the Ismailis, belong to the Shia branch of Islam.

Portugal hasn’t recorded any significant terror attacks in recent decades, and religious violence is virtually unheard of.


Giles reported from Madrid.