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IS-inspired fanatic guilty of Tube station Lee Rigby copycat murder bid

Published 08/06/2016

Muhiddin Mire denies attempted murder after the incident at Leytonstone Tube Station
Muhiddin Mire denies attempted murder after the incident at Leytonstone Tube Station

An Islamic State-inspired fanatic is facing years in jail for trying to copy the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby by beheading a random stranger at a Tube station.

Somali-born Muslim Muhiddin Mire, 30, attacked 56-year-old musician Lyle Zimmerman with a rusty knife and threatened four other travellers as he ran amok through the ticket hall at Leytonstone Underground station in east London.

The whole incident was caught on shocking CCTV and mobile phone footage taken by a passer-by who bravely carried on filming even as Mire lunged at him with the blade.

One onlooker shouted out "You ain't no Muslim, bruv" after Mire claimed he was doing it for "my Syrian brothers" as police took him down with Tasers.

The court heard that minicab driver Mire had a history of mental illness and his psychosis involved the belief that he was being persecuted for his religion and stalked by MI5 and MI6.

He had images of Fusilier Rigby and British Islamic State (IS) executioner Jihadi John on his Samsung phone, along with material linked to IS.

Flanked by several dock officers, Mire stared ahead with a blank expression and his mouth open as a Old Bailey jury found him guilty of attempted murder after just over a day of deliberations.

He had already admitted four counts of attempted wounding and an alternative count of wounding with intent to cause Mr Zimmerman grievous bodily harm.

Afterwards, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC highlighted the "public spiritedness" of people on the day of the attack, saying "It would have been very easy to continue one's journey on, but that did not happen."

Mire, of Sansom Road, Leytonstone, was remanded into custody at Broadmoor secure mental hospital ahead of his sentencing at the Old Bailey on July 27.

On December 5 last year, Mr Zimmerman had stood out from the crowd in cowboy boots and hat, carrying a mandolin in one hand and an amplifier in the other and with a guitar strapped to his back.

He was targeted by Mire as they travelled on the same train from Stratford back to Leytonstone, where the defendant lived alone on benefits.

Mire followed him off the carriage and produced a black-handled knife with a serrated edge from his pocket.

As Mr Zimmerman approached the barriers, Mire grabbed him from behind and swung him around and on to the floor.

Mire then kicked him repeatedly around the head and body as a woman nearby called out for him to stop.

As Mr Zimmerman lay defenceless on the ground, Mire crouched down and began to "saw" at his neck with the serrated blade in front of shocked passengers.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, the victim told the jury: "At the time my subjective impression was that I was being attacked by a crazy person, a mentally unwell person."

A junior doctor on his way home rushed in to help stem the blood flowing from Mr Zimmerman's neck wounds as Mire went up to street level.

He continued to threaten members of the public, swinging his blade at Polish Daniel Bielinski, who began filming events on his mobile phone.

Mire went on to lash out at Serena Valori and an unknown man before coming face to face with Russian security guard Andrius Sabaliauskas, who tried to talk to him.

But despite the efforts to calm him down, Mire tried to slash lift engineer David Pethers before police arrived with Tasers.

Mire ran at an officer and the security guard shouting: "This is for my Syrian brothers, I'm going to spill your blood", before he was finally subdued.

An onlooker called out to Mire: "You ain't no Muslim, bruv" - words which became famous in news reports and social media.

Mire, who suffered from psychotic episodes, had been referred to mental health services by his GP a month before the attack.

The court heard he had paranoid delusions that he was being followed by MI5 and MI6 and was suffering from anxiety and depression.

During that time, Mire was spotted around the estate where he lived wearing traditional Muslim clothes rather than his usual jeans and T-shirt.

Commander Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "I would like to focus not on the terrible actions of Mire last December but the bravery of all of those involved - the junior doctor who gave medical aid to the victim as he lay bleeding on the floor, people who attempted to intervene, people who took video footage which has aided the prosecution, and people who engaged Mire and kept his attention, restricting his movement around the station, effectively confining him until the police arrived and detained him.

"This was Londoners responding calmly and sensibly to a very dangerous individual and all should be praised.

"The officers who detained Mire were faced with a man armed with a knife and with blood on his hands. Using their Taser, they were able to disarm him quickly and effectively, but I have no doubt it took immense bravery to go forward at that moment.

"Whilst Mire has not been accused of any terrorist offences, it would appear from comments he made at the time of the attack and the content he had downloaded on his phone that he may have been inspired by extremist ideology."

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