A 43-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree.
Braintree MP Brooks Newmark tweeted tonight: “Local mosque in Braintree attacked by man with knives and incendiary device. Man arrested. No one injured.” Mr Newmark added: “Just met with leaders of local mosque in Braintree which was attacked this evening. Thanked local police for their swift response.”
A spokesman for the Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre on Silks Way confirmed there had been an arson attempt near the property.
Essex Police confirmed a 43-year-old from Braintree had been arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and attempted arson after the incident in Silks Way at 7.15pm. The spokesman added that police were investigating the “full circumstances” and said “it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time”.
Meanwhile police in Kent were called to reports of criminal damage at a mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, at 8.40pm. A spokesman said a man is in custody on suspicion of racially-aggravated criminal damage.
It seems more than possible that the accused is the same Geoff Ryan who posts comments online under the pseudonym Trinovante and is a supporter of the English Defence League.
Update: Channel 4 News reports:
Just before 7.30pm on Wednesday, the Imam at the mosque was preparing to welcome worshippers for prayer. Upstairs, a member of the congregation was in the kitchen when he heard a shout coming from the main entrance. He said that a man ran into the mosque carrying two knives.
“He was shouting and waving, and had something in his hand, I don’t know what it was exactly but it was a like a smoke bomb, there was smoke everywhere.”
Several members of the mosque claim that the man was shouting at worshippers to come out, saying “where is your Allah now?” They called the police, who arrived within minutes and made an arrest.