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Man who nearly decapitated commuter in Islamic State-inspired attack is jailed for life

He attacked a random stranger in an IS-inspired incident as he walked through Leytonstone Tube station last December.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Muhaydin Mire appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, London
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Muhaydin Mire appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, London
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A MAN WITH paranoid schizophrenia who tried to behead a commuter in a London Underground station in an Islamic State-inspired attack was sentenced to life behind bars today.

Somali-born Muhaydin Mire, 30, said during the rampage that he was doing it “for my Syrian brothers”, while a bystander shouted at him “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv” — a phrase that went viral online.

Mire attacked random stranger Lyle Zimmerman with a rusty knife as the 56-year-old musician walked through Leytonstone Tube station in east London on 5 December.

Zimmerman suffered serious injuries but recovered well after the attack.

Last month a jury convicted Mire of attempted murder.

He was sent today to begin his sentence at the top-security Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, where he was already being detained for treatment.

Mire will serve a minimum of eight and a half years before he can possibly be considered eligible for release.

At the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London, judge Nicholas Hilliard said he accepted that Mire was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack.

But he said he was also in no doubt that Mire was motivated by the conflict in Syria.

“Because Muslims were being bombed in Syria, he was going to attack civilians here,” said Hilliard, the recorder of London.

IS images on phone

Hilliard said he was sure that the “extremely serious violence” was intended “to intimidate at least a section of the public” in order to advance a “religious and extremist cause… namely Islamic extremism”.

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

Hilliard said had the knife blade not broken from the handle, “it is hard to see that Mr Zimmerman would have survived the attack”.

Mire forced Zimmerman to the ground and repeatedly kicked his head before trying to cut his throat. He also lashed out at other passers-by before police shot him with electric stun guns.

Leytonstone stabbing Leytonstone Underground Station Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mire pleaded guilty to attempting to wound four other Tube passengers. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently with his life sentence.

Mire’s mobile phone contained a graph showing US and coalition air strikes on the Islamic State jihadist group and images of IS hostages before they were executed by having their throats cut.

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The out-of-work minicab driver also had images of Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was murdered by Islamic extremists in a beheading attempt in southeast London.

Paranoid delusions

Mire has battled mental illness for years and suffered his first psychotic episode in 2006, the court heard.

A month before the Leytonstone station attack, doctors referred him to the mental health services, saying he had paranoid delusions that he was being followed by the security services.

His family were due to send him back to Somalia the day after the attack.

Mire, wearing a white T-shirt and a blue tracksuit top, showed no emotion throughout the sentencing.

“London is a safer place with Mire behind bars,” said Commander Dean Haydon, of the police Counter Terrorism Command.

Whilst 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.

He said police were working tirelessly at “stopping people getting drawn into terrorism and violent extremism in all forms as well as prosecuting, disrupting and deterring extremists”.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Man charged with London underground stabbing “had pictures of Islamic State on his phone”>

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