UK

Student smiled before stabbing me, says MP Timms

MP Stephen Timms
Image caption MP Stephen Timms said he felt no pain after he was stabbed

An MP stabbed by a student has said she smiled and pretended to shake his hand before knifing him in the stomach.

Stephen Timms said Roshonara Choudhry, 21, of East Ham, appeared friendly and studious as she reached out her hand.

Choudhry was jailed for life at the Old Bailey for trying to kill the MP at his surgery because he backed the Iraq war.

Mr Timms said he was "alarmed" that such a bright woman could "throw it all away" by becoming radicalised via the internet so quickly.

The MP, 55, told Radio 5 live: "It was quite early on in the surgery and everyone who comes has an appointment. Roshonara Choudhry was the second person due to see me.

"She specifically asked to talk to me, rather than my assistant, which people are perfectly entitled to do and I was sitting on one side of a desk.

'Studious'

"She was due to sit opposite me and instead of sitting there she came round to my side of the desk.

"I thought she was coming to shake my hand... but having put out her hand for that purpose, she then pushed her other hand out with a knife in it and stabbed me in the stomach."

The Labour MP added: "She appeared friendly. I think she was smiling, if I remember rightly. She was quite a slight young woman, looked studious, she looked like a student."

Image caption Choudhry became radicalised after watching online sermons

He said he was totally unprepared for the attack and felt no pain as his security guard and others rushed forward to help him.

Once the knife was removed from her hand, he said, he went into the toilet to examine himself.

He said: "I went into the loo, actually, lifted my jumper up and discovered there was quite a lot of blood there so at that point I realised I had been quite seriously injured."

The attack took place at his constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe community centre in east London on 14 May.

Choudhry, who was described as an outstanding student, dropped out of her English degree at King's College London weeks before the attack.

The Muslim student is understood to have become radicalised watching online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent.

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

Mr Timms said it was "alarming" that Choudhry could become so radicalised "simply by spending time on the internet".

He told 5 live: "I think it's clear that the kind of material we're talking about would be illegal if it was hosted on servers in the UK.

"It isn't, it's clearly hosted elsewhere, but there may be legal mechanisms that can be applied - internationally perhaps - to see if some of it can be removed."

Mr Timms, who has made a full recovery, described his attacker's life sentence as "appropriate".

He also thanked the hundreds of constituents who got in touch to wish him well and said he was particularly heartened by the large number of Muslims who prayed for his recovery.

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