A man is facing jail after admitting stabbing the imam at London Central Mosque in the neck in February.
Muslim convert Daniel Horton, 30, knifed imam Raafat Maglad, 70, during Asr prayers before members of the congregation rushed to help him and stop Horton from fleeing.
Imam Maglad was rushed to hospital following the attack but returned to lead prayers at the mosque 24 hours later.
At Southwark crown court this morning, Horton pleaded guilty via prison videolink to charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article.
Horton, who was homeless at the time, and the victim were known to each other prior to the attack as he was a regular attendee at the mosque.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s Jonathan Efemini said no motive had been established for the stabbing, which he described as “unprovoked.”
“Horton launched this targeted attack on Mr Maglad who was defenceless in the midst of prayer,” he told the court. “He had waited for the service to commence, lunged towards the victim, and stabbed him once in the neck.
“Mr Maglad has been attending Regent’s Park Mosque for 25 years as the Muezzin who would make the call for prayer five times a day. This should have been a safe and sacred space for him to worship in peace.”
Horton has been held in prison since the attack, and will undergo a dangerous assessment before he is sentenced.
Imam Magland said it felt like he had been “hit with a brick” when the knife was plunged into him – but now forgives his attacker.
He said the knifeman had been a regular worshipper at the mosque but had never shown any signs of aggression before the horror unfolded.
Around 300 people are believed to have been in the mosque when the incident took place.
Judge Deborah Taylor, the Recorder of Westminster, remanded Horton in custody until sentencing on November 16.