A man detained after a pensioner was set on fire as he exited a mosque in Birmingham was arrested last month for a similar incident in west London. On February 27, an 82-year-old man was set on fire outside a mosque in Ealing. On Monday, Mohammed Rayaz was set on fire in Edgbaston.
Mr. Rayaz, 70, was severely burned on the face and arms. The suspect is being questioned by detectives and counterterrorism officers on suspicion of attempted murder.
The Metropolitan Police stated in a statement that both attacks are now being linked and that the suspect was apprehended for the Wednesday attack in Ealing. Met and West Midlands Police detectives worked closely together to determine the exact circumstances. When counterterrorism police were involved, officers had an open mind regarding possible motivations.
The West Midlands force mentioned that at this stage they were unable to speculate on the purpose for the attacks. This was due to the fact that it was an ongoing investigation. The primary objective was to ensure the safety of the communities and to deliver justice to the victims. In the course of the incident, the victim in Ealing underwent hospital treatment for severe burns to his face and arms.
The suspect engaged the man in conversation as they both exited the West London Islamic Centre, according to the West Midlands Police. They conversed briefly before the victim was drenched with a substance, thought to be gasoline, and then set ablaze. In a statement released on Wednesday, members of the mosque described the incidents as "abhorrent and malicious attacks on two seniors in our community" and commended law enforcement for their efforts.
A spokeswoman stated, "As we begin the wonderful month of Ramadan, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families." The victim, identified as Mr. Hashi, was recovering from his injuries after being released from the hospital the next day. The center stated that he was fortunate to have a buddy waiting nearby in his car at the time of the attack, who moved swiftly by putting out the fire and alerting emergency services.
After undergoing a skin graft operation, Mr. Rayaz's status in the hospital remains critical but stable. The retired industrial worker's garment was set on fire outside his home on Shenstone Road, a short distance from the mosque he had just left on Dudley Road. MP Shabana Mahmood, who spoke to him via video chat, stated that he was moved by the outpouring of solidarity and love following the incident.
Family attorney Shahbon Hussain reported receiving a text message from Mr. Rayaz's son shortly thereafter.
Neighbors, who expressed worry over the attack, assisted in putting out the fire and transporting Mr. Rayaz to his residence. On the night of Ramadan, Ms. Mahmood, the representative for Birmingham Ladywood, organized a community walkabout with police on Wednesday to reassure Muslim neighborhoods. Mr. Hussain, who also chairs the local StreetWatch group, stated that he compiled CCTV and doorbell footage for police using a WhatsApp group of 160 locals.
He noted that it would take some time for them to feel secure when Ramadan began.