Leytonstone terror attack: Knifeman may have wanted to behead victim, witnesses fear

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More about the Leytonstone attack from the Sunday Telegraph 

A knife-wielding Islamist fanatic may have planned to behead a victim after launching a terrifying attack on Tube travellers, witnesses feared. The crazed (here it comes – the mental ill-health angle!) attacker beat a 56-year-old man unconscious before cutting at his neck during the incident at Leytonstone Tube Station in east London on Saturday evening.  The victim was taken to an east London hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries. Another man suffered a minor injury and a woman was threatened by the 29-year-old man but not injured. 

Salim Patel, 59, the Tube station shopkeeper who saw the attack unfold, said he believed the attacker was Somalian or Sudanese and shouting with an “Arabic accent” to all passers-by.

He said: “I was inside the shop and I heard screaming and shouting. He was hitting and punching the victim so hard he fell on the floor and then he kicked him for a long time. He was a strong man. He was punching like a boxer. Everyone was shouting and screaming and he was punching the victim so hard he was screaming ‘somebody help me’.

“Then he got punched so hard he passed out. He then took his knife out and was using it on the victim’s body. His knife was going forward and backwards. But I don’t know in what part of the body he hit. It was very scary, passengers ran away. I think the victim was a musician or a busker. He was carrying a guitar.” 

Leytonstone Masjid Committee, from Leytonstone Mosque, issued a statement blasting the attacks.

They said: “We strongly condemn any sort of violence, Islam does not allow and does not have any place for any violence. Leytonstone is multicultural community we live in peace and harmony. What has happen last night at Leytonstone underground station is totally unacceptable and we totally and strongly condemn this.

“The Masjid is a place where the local community comes to offer prayers, we give lectures on aspects to do with our religion just like any other religious institute. There is no platform, event or dialogue in the masjid that can lead a person to commit such a crime. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of last night’s incidents.” 

And from the Financial Times: Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said the risk of lone actor style terrorists had been present for some time but the authorities had become more worried since the Paris attacks in November.

“Attacks tend to generate copycats,” he said. “We’ve seen these sorts of incidents in a lot of different contexts of late, in Canada, France and Australia. You have basically disaggregated, random people who decide to launch this sort of low-grade attack espousing ideology that immediately connects them to a group — without the group necessarily having been involved.”

He added that the speed with which the police declared this to be a terrorist attack suggested the man may already have been known to them. 

Police are currently searching an address in east London.

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