A man who set fire to two elderly worshipers who had just left mosques in London and Birmingham allegedly told his first victim: “I swear in the name of Allah, in the name of God, you will recognize me.”

The jury that tried Mohammed Abbkr was told that he used a lighter and petrol from a water bottle to kill 82-year-old Hashi Odowa and 70-year-old Mohammed Rayaz on February 27 and March 20 this year to set fire.

Abbkr, who came to the UK from Sudan in 2017 to seek asylum and was granted a leave to remain two years later, denies two charges of attempted murder and two alternative charges of maliciously administering a destructive thing to endanger life.

The 29-year-old, of Gillott Road, Edgbaston, was assisted in the dock by an Arabic interpreter as the Crown’s case was opened by Nicholas de la Poer KC at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

The fact that Mr Odowa did not recognize the defendant appears to have prompted the defendant to act

Mr de la Poer told jurors that Mr Odowa suffered minor burns to his ear and hand after he was set on fire as he made his way to a neighbor’s car outside the West Ealing Islamic Center in west London.

Crown counsel told the court: “The defendant, Mohammed Abbkr, also attended evening prayers at the West Ealing Islamic Center that evening.

“He followed Mr Odowa from the front door of the center and caught up with him as he walked towards (his neighbour’s) car.”

Mr de la Poer added: “A conversation followed in which the defendant insisted that Mr Odowa knew him. Mr Odowa told the defendant that he had not done so.

“When they reached the vehicle, the victim’s neighbor asked the defendant to leave Mr Odowa alone.

“The fact that Mr Odowa did not recognize the defendant appears to have prompted the defendant to act.

“The defendant said: ‘I swear in the name of Allah, in the name of God, you will recognize me’.”

“He then sprayed Mr Odowa with a pale liquid, aiming it at his head. The defendant brought the liquid in a clear plastic water bottle.

“After spraying petrol on Mr Odowa, the accused pulled out a lighter, struck the lighter, held it to Mr Odowa’s neck and lit the petrol.

“Shortly after setting Mr Odowa on fire, the accused walked away.”

Mr de la Poer further described the attack on the second victim: “Weeks later and just over 100 miles away, a man called Mohammed Rayaz attended evening prayers.

“His chosen place of worship was the Dudley Road Mosque.

“That evening the defendant was apparently praying near him. During the course of their time in the prayer room, the defendant looked at Mr. Rayaz several times.”

When the prayers ended, Mr. de la Poer said, Abbkr waited for Mr. Rayaz to come by and followed him for more than five minutes at a distance of just a few meters.

He then took the same clear plastic bottle from a backpack, walked up to Mr Rayaz on Shenstone Road, put a hand on Mr Rayaz’s shoulder and asked him if he spoke Arabic.

Mr de la Poer told the jury: “The defendant then sprayed Mr Rayaz with the petrol.

“The defendant lit the petrol with a lighter. Mr. Rayaz had burst into flames.”

The court was told that when the initial flare-up of the fire subsided, the defendant threw more petrol from his bottle into the flames and they “regained in size and intensity”.

In the first part of his opening statement, Mr de la Poer told the jury that the trial was not one in which they would have to establish the identity of the attacker.

“It is important that you know from the outset that the accused admits that he is the person who set fire to both Mr Odowa and Mr Rayaz,” he said.

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Source : www.newschainonline.com

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