Early Thursday morning, police in London held a press conference to address a mass stabbing in Russell Square that claimed the life of an American woman and injured six others. Police suspected that mental illness had a major part to play in the knife attack, but added that terrorism was still an open line of inquiry.
AC Rowley: The suspect is a Norwegian national of Somali ancestry. No evidence of radicalisation or that the man was motivated by terrorism.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) August 4, 2016
Zakaria Bulhan, 19, a Norwegian national of Somali descent, appeared in court Friday where he was charged with the murder of Darlene Horton, 64, and the attempted murder of five other people: a British man who suffered a stab wound to his stomach and remains hospitalized, and an American man, an Australian man, an Australian woman and an Israeli woman, all of whom were treated and discharged.
According to BBC News, Bulhan appeared in court without legal representation.
Zakaria Bulhan remanded in custody over knife attack in London that killed an American woman and injured five others https://t.co/kjVEMv7bqm
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) August 6, 2016
Police maintain that mental illness played a part in the stabbings, but news site Heat Street reported Friday that the young man described by a former classmate as a “nice, quiet kid” had been reading up on jihad.
EXCLUSIVE: CONFIRMED: ‘Mentally Ill’ Suspect Of Somali Descent In UK Attack Studied Jihad before Killing American https://t.co/74JBzgXtIC
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 5, 2016
Heat Street said an extensive search pulled up “one person in the whole of Britain with the name Zakaria Bulhan,” and that someone by that name had flagged three books on Islam and Islamist theology on the website Goodreads, including a 13th century text advocating violent jihadism. While that’s not exactly proof of terrorist ties, it seems unusual that someone so mentally ill would be charged with murder and five counts of attempted murder without representation present.
@LouiseMensch This cannot be true. The police said it was not terror related.
— Simple Soul (@SimpleSoul10) August 5, 2016
@LouiseMensch As usual, most people will only remember the original official denial of terrorist links… which is why it's always done.
— ScientificMethod (@Technite78) August 5, 2016
— African Views (@ViewsAfrican) August 5, 2016
@LouiseMensch Poor mentally ill/Jihadist Zak . The BBC will have trouble spinning this one. They might have to start telling the truth now
— Kalvin Chapman (@KalvinChapman) August 5, 2016
@LouiseMensch He has not been sectioned and has been charged with murder. That should tell you everything. Very unusual move by police.
— Me again (@jmskrn) August 6, 2016