London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A man burst into the Regent’s Park mosque in Central London during Friday prayers and threatened to blow himself up. Dr. Younis Ramadan al Teenaz, advisor to the Islamic Cultural Center and the Central mosque would not rule out taking the attacker to court. He also praised the Metropolitan Police and security forces as they quickly arrived at the scene and arrested the perpetrator who contrary to his claims may not have been carrying explosives. police are yet to confirm these details.
A number of worshipers on the upper floor who witnessed the suspect entering the mosque said he burst into the room and unzipped his trousers and shouted, “I am a Jew.” They noted he was carrying a large backpack and threatened that he would blow himself up. Pandemonium ensued as panic-stricken worshipers ran away form the intruder. One young man was able to get hold of the suspect, who is thought to be in his forties, and throw him on the floor, paving the way for security guards to seize him and lead him away. The police arrived at the mosque soon after and detained the attacker after covering his head to ensure he remained anonymous. Some worshipers were injured during the ordeal.
Embes Ahmad Jasser, an Eritrean citizen employed as a security guard at the mosque, told Asharq Al Awsat, the attacker yelled, “I am a Jews and I will detonate the bombs I am carrying.” After the man was apprehended, he was asked about his motives. According to Jasser, the attacker replied, “I am a Polish Jew and I am ready to blow myself up.” The security guard believed the suspect was of Eastern European origin despite being fluent in English. As for whether the backpack contained any explosives or not, Jasser said he did not know as the guards were too scared to open it and look. He added, “It is up to the police to discover the identity of the man and examine his bag.” Jasser would not comment on the suspect’s mental state.
Dr. al Teinaz gave a slightly different description of the attacker and described the man as Christian. He said, “What he did is totally unacceptable. People have the right to pray in peace, free of the threats of violence and terrorism.” He believed the man did not carry any bombs on his back. Worshipers were scared, he added, because the attack burst suddenly into the room and screamed loudly. After the incident, “The Friday prayer resumed.” Dr. al Teinaz, who is a Senior Environmental Health Officer for Haringey Council, in North London , hoped the facts surrounding the incident would soon be established. He added, “The Attacker should be referred to a psychiatrist. If he is mentally unfit, necessary measures need to be taken to protect the public. However, if he is mentally fit, we might take him to court.” This, he added, was the first time Regent’s Park mosque was the scene of a disturbance. In the wake of the 7 th July bombings in London, “We received a number of threats from racist and right-wing groups.” Dr. al Teinaz reserved his praise to the police who “provided the necessary protection and deployed 500 policemen to guard it.”
Commenting on the dismissal of Algerian citizen Abdul Salam bin Daoud who worked in the media department, Dr. al Teinaz revealed the administration of the Islamic Cultural Center and the Regent’s Park Mosque decided to relieve bin Daoud of his responsibilities after statements he made to the London newspaper, the Evening Standard earlier in the week. The sacked official had said Muslims arrested for suspected involvement in terrorism were innocent despite government charges to the contrary. Dr. al Teinaz said the Center could not comment on the innocence of any of these people as they lacked evidence. This is why it preferred to keep out of matters best handled by the authorities according to British law. He reiterated the Center and Regent’s Park Mosque wanted to express their solidarity with all the people of Britain, and Londoners in particular, after the terrorist attacks in July 2005.