Tom Goodenough

Leytonstone tube attack: Islamic fanaticism or mental illness?

Leytonstone tube attack: Islamic fanaticism or mental illness?
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The Muslim extremist who attempted to murder a man at Leytonstone tube station last December has been given a life sentence today. Muhiddin Mire will spend at least eight-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of attempted murder. He'll start his sentence at Broadmoor but whilst the Old Bailey Judge accepted Mire was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, he said it was also clear Mire was motivated by Islamic extremism. In his sentencing remarks, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said:

'In other words, because Muslims were being bombed in Syria, he was going to attack civilians here. That was designed to intimidate a section of the public, and it was to advance an extreme cause.'

One interesting point to emerge from the case was the disagreement amongst doctors who gave evidence about whether Mire's mental illness was the only motivating factor behind the attack. Dr Shaun Bhattacharjee said Mire's extremism was a symptom of his illness; Dr Philip Joseph said there was a distinction between Mire's Islamic fanaticism and his condition. The judge leaned towards Joseph's argument, saying that:

'This was an attempt to to kill an innocent member of the public for ideological reasons by cutting his throat in plain sight for maximum impact.'

Given that Mire yelled out 'This is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood' during the attack last December, that seems like an obvious conclusion. But nonetheless, the police were somewhat gentler in their remarks about what motivated the attack. Met Police commander Dean Haydon said:

'While Mire was not accused of 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 terrorist propaganda.'

Either way, Mire will not be released for a long time. And we can breathe a sigh of relief that this vicious attack wasn't worse.