GUILTY: Mohammed Abbkr convicted after burning two elderly Muslims

Pic: West Midlands Police
A man has been found guilty of two counts of attempted murder after setting fire to two elderly Muslim worshippers who had left mosques in London and Edgbaston.

Mohammed Abbkr, 29, targeted the unsuspecting victims Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, in separate attacks earlier this year.

He followed both men before spraying them with petrol from a water bottle and using a lighter to set them on fire.

Following the sentencing, North Edgbaston Councillors Sharon Thompson and Marcus Bernasconi released a joint statement: “This verdict begins the healing process for the victims, there families, and our tight-knit community.

“We hope the verdict allows the victims to continue their recovery, confident in the knowledge that the perpetrator will be punished for his crimes.”

Chief Inspector Haroon Chughtai, of Birmingham Police, was quoted on West Midlands Police website saying: “These were absolutely horrific attacks which almost defy belief in their apparent randomness and severity.

“The courage of the victims and their families has been exceptional. They have been left with physical and emotional wounds that they may never recover from, but I hope today’s verdicts will offer them some comfort.”

Abbkr struck his first victim, Mr Odowa, in the British capital on February 27 as he was leaving prayers at the West London Islamic Centre in Ealing.

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Abbkr had been in the mosque at the same time as his victim, when they both left just before 8pm.

Abbkr asked the victim if he remembered him, and the victim replied no. Abbkr then said: “I swear in the name of Allah, in the name of God, you will know me” before pouring petrol over him, setting him ablaze with a lighter and running away.

Abbkr struck again on March 20, this time targeting Mr Rayaz who had been at the Dudley Road Mosque in Birmingham.

At around 7pm, he approached Mr Rayaz on Shenstone Road, and spoke to him, asking him if he spoke Arabic. He then poured fuel over him before setting him on fire.

Rayaz was left with serious burns to his face and neck, and in need of skin grafts to his hands and face. He’s been diagnosed with depression and PTSD, and may be left with permanent patching to his face.

Counter-terrorism officers were initially called in to investigate, given the nature of the attacks but found no evidence that Abbkr was motivated by a particular ideology, and so this has not been treated as a terrorist attack.

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