The young knifeman who killed an American woman and injured 5 more fits the profile of an ISIS radical. Question is, was he? His neighbor believe that claims of mental-illness is just a ‘scapegoat’. Do you agree?
Counter-terror police will today forensically study computers belonging to the Russell Square knifeman as a neighbour claimed the ‘impressionable’ teenager could have been inspired by ISIS.
Scotland Yard believe Zakaria Bulhan, 19, a Norwegian national of Somali origin who moved to the UK in 2002, was not ‘motivated by terrorism’ but its officers are trawling his possessions for extremist material.
But neighbour Parmjit Singh, a BBC radio DJ known as ‘DJ Precious’ on the Asian network, said he had known ‘impressionable’ Bulhan for seven years, adding: ‘His mental health problems are a scapegoat.’
The 36-year-old said: ‘They said he had mental health issues but that was not the boy I knew.
‘The news of his mental illness is completely new, we never heard that. Honestly, I think his mental health problems are a scapegoat.’
Asked what he thought motivated the attack, Parmjit said: ‘I think peer pressure, hanging around with gangs. He wasn’t working, he was hanging around with Somalian boys and I think they had possible links to serious ISIS people – not directly, but they see all this stuff and are inspired by it.
‘Why would he attack an American woman tourist in a random attack? I think boys have put pressure on him to go there and do something. He was very impressionable growing up’.
Police are guarding the council flat in Tooting he shared with his mother and siblings as they investigate his motives for murdering American Darlene Horton, 64, in front of her husband Dr Rick Wagner.
The retired teacher was stabbed in the back with a kitchen knife and bled to death on the pavement in the frenzied six-minute attack on Wednesday evening that left five others injured.
A police source said: ‘We are expecting counter-terror officers this afternoon who will take away his computers and electrical equipment to study.’
Friends have described their shock at the knife attacks, describing him as a ‘teacher’s pet’ and a ‘devout Muslim’ who would love debating religion.
Online postings show a man named Zak Bulhan is interested in Islamic study, and in another he pledges support to former Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg.
Rakesh Naidu, 18, said: ‘I can’t believe it, I’m just telling myself it must be a mistake. We used to get really competitive over grades in maths and debate religion all the time.
‘He was a devout Muslim and he would passionately defend it, but he respected my opinion too. He was a bit socially awkward but as far as I knew he didn’t have mental health problems.
‘He wasn’t the jock but he wasn’t the kid who ate glue at the back of the class. He just flew under the radar.’
Today a family friend claimed the teenager had tried to kill himself three times this year before he stabbed to death an American tourist in front of her ‘absolutely devastated’ husband.
Bulhan was arrested on suspicion of murder after dozens of armed police – fearing a terror attack – brought him down with a Taser stun gun.
Mother-of-two Darlene Horton, 64, was stabbed in the back with a kitchen knife and bled to death on the pavement in the frenzied six-minute attack on Wednesday evening that left five others injured.
She had chosen to stay in London for an extra day to enjoy time in the capital because psychology professor Dr Richard Wagner had taught at a UK summer school for several weeks. They were due to fly back six hours after her murder.
Today it has emerged that Bulhan, who was held miles from his south London home clutching a knife, appears to have been depressed and had tried to kill himself three times in the past six months, family friends have said.
One told The Times: ‘He has been very unwell. He wanted to kill himself. I saw his mother with an ambulance outside their flat and she said Zac had called it because he wanted to hurt himself. He’s called the ambulance about two more times because he was feeling unwell. His mother was very afraid’.
His local mental health trust have not commented on his case, but it is understood he was living at home not in care. They are working with detectives
Ambulances were repeatedly called to the council flat he shares with his mother and sister in Tooting because the teenager had wanted to harm himself, it has been said. One neighbour had claimed that his parents’ separation may have upset him and he had become more reclusive in recent years.
Murder victim Ms Horton had been due to fly home to Tallahassee, Florida, yesterday, and a colleague of the couple in Tallahassee, said her heartbroken husband was ‘absolutely devastated.’
The keen tennis player’s last words were ‘he’s still here, he’s still here’ as she tried to warn others of the attacker’s presence before she fell unconscious.
She could not be saved, despite the best efforts of paramedics, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses said her shocked husband sobbed nearby as her body lay sprawled on the pavement overnight.
Dozens of flowers have been left at the spot where she was stabbed including bouquets with an American flag.
John Thrasher, president of Florida State University (FSU), where Dr Wagner teaches, said: ‘There are no words to express our heartache over this terrible tragedy. We are shocked that such senseless violence has touched our own FSU family and we will do all we can to assist Professor Wagner and his loved ones as well as his friends and colleagues in the psychology department as they mourn.’