A Ukrainian student with a hatred of “non-whites” has admitted murdering an 82-year-old man and plotting to cause explosions near mosques.
Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk in the Ukraine, appeared at the Old Bailey and pleaded guilty to murdering Mohammed Saleem as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham in April.
He also admitted causing an explosion on July 12 near the Kanzal Iman mosque in Tipton, and engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between April 24 and July 18 this year.
This included planting bombs near mosques in Walsall and Wolverhampton, researching locations to plant bombs and buying chemicals on the internet to make explosives.
Lapshyn will be sentenced on Friday.
The Ukrainian was in the UK on a sponsored work placement at a software firm in the Small Heath area of Birmingham when he was arrested on suspicion of Mr Saleem’s murder nearby on July 20.
The pensioner and father of seven was stabbed three times yards from his house as he walked home alone after worship, on April 29, prompting an outpouring of grief from the community.
While Lapshyn remained at large, he plotted the planting of devices near three mosques as part of a campaign he said was motivated by racial hatred.
No one was injured by any of the explosions.
Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “We found part-made devices in Lapshyn’s room plus chemicals and bomb-making equipment, so it is clear he planned to place further devices with the intention of killing or maiming innocent members of the public.
“All three of the devices he detonated were powerful but his final attack in Tipton was the first to feature shrapnel and nails. He placed this near the mosque’s car park with the intention of hitting worshippers as they arrived for prayers. Thankfully the service had been put back an hour so the mosque was largely deserted when the bomb went off.
“In interview Lapshyn stressed he was acting alone, not part of a wider cell or influenced by any group, and was keen to take credit for masterminding and carrying out the attacks. Our work is ongoing with Ukrainian authorities to understand more about his background and we have officers in Ukraine probing his history.”
Woolwich murder and Islamophobia
Since the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby on May 22 in Woolwich south east London, Islamophobic attacks have increased across Britain. Numerous mosques and Islamic centres have been fire bombed and targeted with bombs.
A mosque in Braintree, Essex and Gillingham, Kent was attacked on the evening of the Woolwich murder. A mosque in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was fire bombed within days of the of the Woolwich incident. Al Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, North London was torched to the ground with “EDL” painted on its walls. Darul Uloom in Chislehurst, Greater London was also set on fire weeks after the Woolwich attack.
A Muslim cemetery was desecrated with Islamophobic graffiti in Newport, Wales in June and an Islamic centre in Kirkcaldy, Scotland was also vandalised the night before the start of Ramadan.