Man in court over London Tube attack; police step up patrols

Armed British police officers maintain their usual patrol outside St Pancras international railway station in London, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. Police in London are stepping up patrols at transport hubs after a stabbing at Leytonstone underground station in which a man brandishing a knife reportedly said, "This is for Syria." The incident comes just days after Parliament approved British airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — A man who allegedly screamed “this is for Syria” as he slashed a passenger’s neck in a London subway station had images associated with the Islamic State group on his mobile phone, prosecutors said Monday.

Muhaydin Mire, who has been charged with attempted murder, also allegedly had images relating to the Nov. 13 gun and bomb rampage in Paris and a recent British police anti-terrorism training exercise.

Prosecution lawyer David Cawthorne told a court hearing Monday that prosecutors allege Saturday’s knife attack at Leytonstone Underground station was an act of terrorism.

Passers-by recorded the aftermath of the incident on their phones. In one clip, as police officers wrestled the suspect to the floor, a bystander yelled: “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.”

The terse dismissal, spoken in a distinct London accent — complete with the slang term bruv, for brother — raced round social media, with the hashtag YouAintNoMuslimBruv becoming a top trending topic on Twitter.

Mire, who is 29 and lives a few blocks from the east London subway station, appeared Monday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Cawthorne, the prosecutor, said Mire launched a “violent, sustained and unprovoked” attack on a 56-year-old man, who was punched and kicked to the ground before being slashed in the neck during the attack. He required five hours of surgery on a 12-centimeter (5-inch) wound and is in stable condition in a hospital.

A written summary of the prosecution case disclosed in court included details of the IS-related material found on the suspect’s phone.

Mire — who was arrested after police officers used a stun gun to subdue him — spoke only to confirm his name, age and address. He was ordered detained until a court appearance on Friday.

Police stepped up patrols at transport hubs after the incident, which came days after Parliament approved British airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria.

British-born Muslim extremists killed 52 people in subway and bus bombings July 2005. In May 2013, two al-Qaida-inspired attackers stabbed an off-duty soldier to death in a London street.

Many Londoners have been on edge since the Paris carnage, which killed 130 people — and Prime Minister David Cameron said a similar attack “could happen here.”

Many felt the Leytonstone bystander’s comment struck a defiant note with distinctly British understatement.

“It’s a very London thing to say,” said Fiyaz Mughal, director of anti-extremism group Faith Matters. “I thought it was really positive.

“Given the sharp spike after Paris in Islamophobic incidences, it is exactly this kind of positive messaging that detaches the Muslim community from extremists and terrorists.”

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