Tube slashing suspect 'did it for Syrian brothers'

LONDON • A man allegedly slashed the throat of a London Underground passenger for his "Syrian brothers", a court has heard.

The aftermath of the incident in December last year was captured on mobile phone footage, and a bystander's retort to the attacker - "You ain't no Muslim, bruv" - became famous in Britain.

Muhiddin Mire, a 30-year-old Somali-born taxi driver, is accused of attacking 56-year-old musician Lyle Zimmerman at Leytonstone Tube station in east London. Zimmerman survived the attack.

As the trial opened on Tuesday, London's Old Bailey central criminal court was told that Mire had said as he lashed out: "This is for my Syrian brothers. I'm going to spill your blood." He had added: "Do you know if you live in Syria they bomb you? I'm going to attack your civilians."

Mire's mobile phone contained a graph showing US and coalition air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and images of hostages before they were executed by having their throats cut, prosecutor Jonathan Rees told the jury.

The incident was captured on security cameras as well as by a member of the public on his phone, the Old Bailey heard.

The prosecutor said Mire launched a brutal attack on "wholly innocent" commuters. He flung Mr Zimmerman to the floor and kicked him repeatedly around the head, the court heard.

"At the end of the assault, when Mr Zimmerman was lying motionless and defenceless on the floor of the ticket hall, the defendant crouched over him and quite deliberately began to cut Mr Zimmerman's throat with a knife blade," the prosecutor said.

Mire then allegedly swung the blade at others in the station.

The court heard that Mire has pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Zimmerman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and to attempting to wound four other Tube passengers.

He is being tried for attempted murder, having pleaded not guilty to that charge. Jurors must decide whether, at the time of the attack, he tried to kill Mr Zimmerman.

Mire sat in the dock with an interpreter. The defendant had suffered from mental illness for years and suffered his first psychotic episode in 2006, the court heard.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Tube slashing suspect 'did it for Syrian brothers''. Print Edition | Subscribe