London acid attacker faked Christian conversion

London acid attacker faked Christian conversion

More details are emerging about the identity of an Afghan man wanted in London in relation to a “horrific” chemical attack in London that injured 12, including his criminal past, failed attempts to claim asylum, and questionable conversion to Christianity.

Police named 35-year-old Abdul Shokoor Ezedi on Thursday as being wanted in connection to a serious attack near Clapham Common in South London on Wednesday which saw a woman run over, a child repeatedly “smashed” into the ground, and a strong alkali chemical thrown, causing severe burns. 12 people were injured, some seriously, including a mother, her daughters, members of the public who went to help them, and police officers responding to the scene.

Police warned “dangerous individual” Ezedi should not be approached if seen, but the “horrific incident” he is alleged to have perpetrated and the circumstances surrounding his being in the United Kingdom at all have seen questions raised — yet again — about the quality of the nation’s immigration system.

Pizza takeaway chef Ezedi, it is now claimed, is an Afghan asylum seeker who arrived in the UK illegally hidden in the back of a truck and who despite two previously failed asylum application attempts from 2016 onwards and a conviction for a sex offence in 2018 finally had his application accepted around 2021. It is reported by The Daily Telegraph that this third application for asylum by Ezedi was on the basis that he was a Christian convert and consequently faced prosecution for apostasy if he returned to his native Afghanistan.

Yet people who know Ezedi in the Newcastle neighbourhood where he had come to live after moving to Britain gave an account of his life that stood at odds with his claim — backed up by a Church of England priest — that he’d left his Muslim faith behind. A halal butcher who said he regularly sold Ezedi meat described his customer as a “good customer” who talked of going back to Afghanistan to find a wife, somewhat throwing into question the basis of his claim returning to his homeland would put him in danger.

The shopkeeper is reported to have said: “Every two weeks he would come here to buy a half sheep… He never bought any alcohol. He was a good Muslim. Some Muslims do buy alcohol, but he never bought alcohol… I thought he was respectful and a very good guy, a good Muslim. I know he was Afghani”.

The revelation the alleged London chemical attacker had made what may be a false conversion to game the asylum system has triggered inevitable comparisons to Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen, an Iraqi asylum seeker who had lied about being Syrian, and being a Christian, to get the right to remain in the United Kingdom. He blew himself up inside a taxi in an apparent attempted terrorist attack against a hospital in Liverpool, but ended up being the only victim.

In the Swealmeen case, as appears to be the case with Ezedi, the Church of England supported the asylum application by saying a conversion had taken place.

Ezedi’s right to remain in the United Kingdom should never have been approved as, given his 2018 conviction for a sex crime, he was not eligible for asylum status anyway.

Government figures have cited this case as an example of the broken asylum system that allows migrant criminals to stay in the country even when the rules would otherwise mean they should leave. The Prime Minister, for instance, has gone on record criticising the rules, saying through a spokesman per The Times that he doesn’t think “foreign criminals should be able to stay, putting the public at risk”.

Police gave an update on the manhunt on Friday evening, saying the mother attacked in Clapham on Wednesday was still in hospital “very unwell” and has had to be sedated. Her injuries are said to be “life changing”, but the injuries of her two daughters are now said to not be as bad as previously feared.

Commander Jon Savell said of the police response to the “horrific incident” that police had executed three warrants, two in East London and three in Newcastle seeking suspect Ezedi. While no arrests have yet been made but “we’ve recovered some significant and important evidence including “Two empty containers with corrosive warnings on the label”. The senior officer also appealed directly to the suspect, saying: “Mr Ezedi, you clearly need significant help with that serious injury. Do the right thing and hand yourself in”.