Student guilty of attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms

Roshonara Choudhry holding a knife in her left hand Roshonara Choudhry was seen holding a knife in her left hand, immediately before the attack

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A student has been found guilty of attempting to murder MP Stephen Timms because he voted for the Iraq war.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, stabbed the Labour MP for East Ham twice in the stomach at a constituency surgery in Newham, east London, in May.

Choudhry, of Central Park Road, East Ham, was also convicted of two counts of possessing a knife.

Police sources said the young Muslim student had become radicalised, BBC correspondent Jane Peel said.

She was said to have watched online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent, our correspondent added.

Mr Awlaki has been linked to a series of attacks and plots across the world.

'Punishment attack'
Roshonara Choudhry Roshonara Choudhry instructed lawyers not to challenge the evidence

Jurors took 14 minutes to return guilty verdicts on Choudhry in what the judge, Mr Justice Cooke, described as an unusual case.

Choudhry, who had refused to appear in court, told her barrister Jeremy Dein QC she did not accept the court's jurisdiction and did not wish him to challenge the prosecution case.

During the half-day trial William Boyce QC, prosecuting, said Choudhry told police she attacked Mr Timms, 55, as a "punishment" and "to get revenge for the people of Iraq".

Jurors heard she made an appointment to see the MP at Beckton community centre on 14 May.

When she arrived she smiled as she walked up to him, acting as if to shake his hand, before lunging at him with a kitchen knife.

Mr Timms told the court: "She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly."

Analysis

Roshonara Choudhry was only 13 when Britain decided to take military action against Iraq - far too young to vote in Parliamentary election. But it was the decision of her constituency MP, Stephen Timms, to support the Iraq war which was her motivation for attempted murder more than seven years later.

At the age of 21, she set out to kill him, taking along two kitchen knives, bought for the purpose, to his regular Friday afternoon constituency surgery in Beckton in east London.

Before the attack on Mr Timms she had sought out Jihadist websites. She is said to have watched online sermons by the American-born preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, who is thought to be behind the Yemen cargo bomb plot. There is, however, no suggestion that Roshonara Choudhry had any direct contact with Islamic extremists.

She told the police she wanted revenge. As a constituent, she had direct access to Stephen Timms and she used it to attack him.

Choudhry stabbed Mr Timms, sending him "reeling and staggering" as his assistant prised the knife from her.

She was held in a "bear hug" by a security guard until the police arrived.

Mr Boyce said Miss Choudhry told police she made the appointment solely for the purpose of attacking him.

She had two knives with her in case one broke during the attack.

In a police interview the next day she said: "I was not going to stop until someone made me.

"I wanted to kill him... I was going to get revenge for the people of Iraq."

After the attack Mr Timms was given first aid before being taken to the Royal London Hospital.

He has since made a full recovery.

The Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said Mr Timms was "extremely fortunate" not to have been killed.

He said: "Mr Timms, like all MPs, are entitled to fulfil their role without fear of violence.

"There can never be any justification for anyone carrying out such an attack."

Choudhry is due to appear via videolink for sentencing on Wednesday.

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