Surrey stabbing a ‘terrorist’ incident ‘inspired by the far right’, police say

Police in Viola Avenue in Stanwell, Surrey Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

A stabbing in Surrey in which a man rampaged with a baseball bat and knife while hurling racist abuse is being treated as a terror attack.

Counter terrorism officers and Surrey Police are investigating the incident in a Tesco car park in Stanwell on Saturday night.

A 50-year-old man from the village, which is near Heathrow Airport, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and racially aggravated public order offences, Counter Terrorism Policing South East said.

Neighbours said they were “shocked” and “scared” by the incident.

But the girlfriend of the arrested man told Press Association he was in “no way a terrorist”.

She said: ” It’s not like him, he’s definitely 100% not a terrorist, he’s the loveliest guy you could meet.

“I think he needs help, rather than being classed a terrorist.

“He’s had a lot going on in his life and I’ve stood by him and I think this was just something that tipped him.

“It’s all got out of control.

“He’s the love of my life and I will stand by him.”

Officers were called at around 10.30pm to reports of a man acting aggressively and shouting racist comments while carrying the weapons in Viola Avenue where vehicles had been damaged.

They then received another call reporting a man had been stabbed nearby.

Armed police attended and arrested a suspect who remains in custody.

A 19-year-old man, who went to a nearby McDonald’s to try to get help, was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and continues to receive treatment, police said.

The extent of his injuries has not been confirmed.

One resident said she came “within feet” of the attacker, who was “walking in the middle of the road swinging a shiny weapon” back and forth.

She added: “I turned around and ran down the next road, hid in an alley, waited for the coast to be clear and ran,” she said.

She said he had “something covering his mouth and nose and his hood up, so I could only see his eyes and his forehead”.

“It was very scary,” she said.

Several police cars were parked outside a terraced house in Viola Avenue on Sunday evening.

Police officers searching the property were seen leaving with a bag of evidence.

Members of the public gathered nearby while neighbours could be seen peering out their windows at the scene below.

Nemer Salem, who lives about 50 metres down the same road, said he sped up when he heard a man shouting racist slurs out of a window on Saturday night as he was walking past at around 8pm.

The 24-year-old, from Syria who lived in Kuwait before coming to London six years ago and moved to the area recently,  said: “He started saying some crazy things about Muslims and just shut the window and went inside.

“I’m a Muslim and I got a little bit worried.”

Some described the arrested man as friendly, saying he was “not that sort of person”.

Vincent Sutherland, 54, who lives on the road with his wife and children, said he heard shouting around 8pm, adding: “He was shouting ‘kill a Muslim’ and ‘white supremacy’.”

But said he did not think the man arrested was “capable” of such an act, adding: “He’s polite, he always says hello to me.”

Police with evidence bags Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

It is believed the suspect in both incidents is the same man and officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack, police said.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of counter terrorism policing, said officers were still trying to establish the full circumstances of the attacking, adding: “While this investigation is still in its infancy, it has hallmarks of a terror event, inspired by the far right, and therefore it has been declared a terrorism incident.”

Police at the scene are investigating a “terror” incident Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

He said police were “committed to tackling all forms of toxic extremist ideology”. He urged witnesses to come forward and said officers were out in patrol in the area, visiting places of worship and businesses.

Detective Superintendent Karen Mizzi, of Surrey Police, said it was a “shocking and worrying incident”.

Prime Minister Theresa May said in a post on Twitter that “vile hateful far-right extremism has no place in our society.”

The attack follows a series of incidents over the weekend after the  shooting in New Zealand, including graffiti of far-right symbols appearing on a wall near a school. Police are also hunting for three men who made anti-Muslim remarks before attacking an Asian man in the street.

Responding to the events, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement: “We must stand together as a society and reject the terrorists and extremists who seek to divide us.

“Now’s the moment for us all to challenge the hatred, ignorance and violence they peddle and stand up for the kind of country we are and want to be.”