Leytonstone Tube knife attack ‘was to avenge Syria bombing’

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A former taxi driver with delusions of being stalked by MI5 and MI6 tried to cut the throat of a stranger during a Tube station attack to avenge the bombing of Syria, a court heard.

Muhiddin Mire, 30, kicked and slashed Lyle Zimmerman and lashed out at anyone else who got in his way. Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, told how Mire launched a brutal attack on “wholly innocent” Mr Zimmerman, a 56-year-old musician who at the time was wearing distinctive cowboy boots and hat and carrying a mandolin.

As he lashed out at one passer-by, Mire said: “This is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood.”

CCTV footage showed the attack began as Mr Zimmerman reached the barriers, and Mire grabbed him round the neck, before forcing him to the ground and repeatedly kicking him in the head and body. He then began to saw at Mr Zimmerman’s neck with his small bread knife.

Mr Rees said: “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.

“Mercifully, Mr Zimmerman survived the ordeal because, although he suffered three jagged wounds to the front of his neck, none of them caused any damage to any of the major blood vessels in that area.”

Mire then went up to street level, where he came across Daniel Bielinski and his girlfriend, and again lashed out with his blade.

The court heard Mire accepts he used the knife and has pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Zimmerman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and to attempting to wound four other Tube passengers. Mire denies the charge of attempted murder. But the jury must decide whether at the time of the attack, Mire intended to kill Mr Zimmerman.

Somali-born Mire had suffered from mental illness for years and arrived in the UK as a young boy, the court heard. He’s obviously fit to stand trial. 

Mobile phone video of the attack also captured Mire saying ‘If you’re Muslim you get bombed’ and ‘I’m going to attack your civilians.’

Mr Rees said: ‘It provides an indication as to what motivated the defendant to attack random strangers with a knife. It appears he was motivated by revenge for what was occurring in Syria.”

His phone contained a graph showing numbers of US and coalition force air strikes on Islamic State and pictures of hostages apparently taken just before they had their throats cut.

The trial continues.

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