Student convicted in anti-war attack on MP
|A student radicalized by a preacher in Yemen with links to al-Qaeda was convicted yesterday of trying to murder a British lawmaker in retaliation for his support for the Iraq war.|
Roshonara Choudhry, 21, a communications and English major at London's King's College, stabbed parliamentarian Stephen Timms twice in the stomach as he met with constituents in May this year.
Choudhry told police she had wanted to kill the former government minister on behalf of "the people of Iraq."
She had been converted to violence by a radical preacher being hunted in Yemen, a security source said. The source said the student had been radicalised by listening to sermons issued online by Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist preacher based in Yemen who is wanted by Washington for links to al-Qaeda.
Awlaki, and other propagandists of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have urged followers in the West to attack whatever targets they can find with whatever weapon is available.
Choudhry had compiled a list of other politicians who had voted for the 2003 invasion, the Press Association news agency quoted a police source as saying.
Choudhry refused to appear in person at London's Central Criminal Court, saying through her defence lawyer, Jeremy Dein, that she did not recognise the court's authority and had ordered her legal team not to contest the evidence against her. She is due to be sentenced via videolink today.
Timms has served in parliament since 1994 as the MP for East Ham, east London. He served in a wide variety of junior ministerial posts in the government of prime minister Tony Blair, whose decision to join the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq proved deeply unpopular in Britain.
Timms, 55, told the jury on Monday he thought Choudhry - who was dressed in black and wearing a headscarf - was about to shake hands when she lunged at him.
"She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly," said Timms, who has made a full recovery. "I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn't normally be willing to shake a man's hand, still less to take the initiative to do so."
Reuters, Associated Press