Mohammed Abbkr guilty of setting fire to 2 worshippers walking home from London and Birmingham mosques
Mohammed Abbkr has been found guilty of attempted murder after attacks outside West Ealing Moque and in Birmingham.
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Mohammed Abbkr, 29, prayed with the congregation before waiting for his victims, Hashi Odowa, 82 and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, outside before setting them alight using a lighter.
Birmingham Crown Court heard Abbkr set fire to Mr Odowa on February 27 as he made his way to a neighbour’s car outside West Ealing Islamic Centre, in London. The victim was approached at around 8pm by Abbkr, who was holding a Volvic water bottle containing what is believed to have been petrol. Abbkr asked the victim if he remembered him, and the victim replied no. Abbkr then said: “I swear in the name of Allah, in the name of God, you will know me.”
He poured petrol over him, setting him alight with a lighter and running away. The victim threw his burning jacket into the road, before being taken to hospital with burns to his face and left hand.
Abbkr struck again on March 20, this time targeting Mr Rayaz, who had been at the Dudley Road mosque in Birmingham. At around 7pm, he approached Mr Rayaz, on Shenstone Road, and spoke to him, asking him if he spoke Arabic. He then poured fuel over him before setting him on fire. Mr Rayaz managed to walk to his son’s house nearby. He needed skin grafts to his hands and face and has been diagnosed with depression and PTSD.
Officers launched a major investigation and while carrying out enquiries near the mosque, officers spotted Abbkr, recognising him from CCTV. He was arrested and charged with both attacks.
Mohammed Ayaz, the eldest son of Mr Rayaz, said: “Seeing my father’s beautiful white beard all burnt off, eyes and lips swollen up, hands burnt and seeing him half naked with no clothes on the upper body was just a very traumatic and life changing moment. No words can describe that moment the emotions which I was feeling, I felt so helpless and weak, no son or daughter should see their father or mother in that state."
Chief Inspector Haroon Chughtai, of Birmingham Police, said: “These were absolutely horrific attacks which almost defy belief in their apparent randomness and severity. Counter-terrorism officers were initially called in to investigate, given the nature of the attacks. While they have continued the investigation, we have found no evidence that Abbkr was motivated by a particular ideology, and so this has not been treated as a terrorist attack. Thankfully these kinds of attacks are incredibly rare, but in the aftermath, we worked closely with mosques around Birmingham to offer reassurance and listen to their concerns.”
Abbkr came to the UK from Sudan in 2017 seeking asylum was granted leave to remain two years later. He denied two counts of attempted murder and two alternative counts of maliciously administering a destructive thing to endanger life.