LONDON (Reuters) - A man who stabbed a passenger at a London underground train station in December while shouting that he was acting for Syria, was convicted on Wednesday of attempted murder, police said.
Muhaydin Mire, 30, of east London, beat his victim, forced him to the ground and kicked his head before attempting to cut his neck, leaving the man with a 12-cm (5-inch) gash that required five hours of surgery.
Initially described by police as a “terrorist incident”, the attack at Leytonstone station in east London was investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
“Whilst Mire has not been accused of any 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 extremist ideology,” said Commander Dean Haydon in a statement.
Mire, who also tried to attack several other people during the incident, had pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted wounding but denied trying to kill his victims. A jury at London’s Old Bailey court found him guilty of one count of attempted murder. He will be sentenced in July.
Several people filmed the incident on their phones, which helped the prosecution, police said.
Some of the footage was posted on the Internet shortly after the attack, including images of a bystander shouting “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv”, a phrase which circulated widely and was applauded by Prime Minister David Cameron.
After stabbing his first victim, Mire walked out of the station and back in again, lashing out at people with his knife on at least four occasions and chasing one victim who was filming his actions.
Police said a doctor present at the scene rushed to help the victim as he lay bleeding, while onlookers talked to Mire to keep his attention and restrict his movements, confining him until police arrived and used Taser stun guns to disarm him.
“This was Londoners responding calmly and sensibly to a very dangerous individual and all should be praised,” said Haydon.
The Leytonstone incident took place at a time of heightened tension over Islamist militancy in Europe following the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison