Counter-terror police have been called in to assist with a major hate crime investigation after a small home-made bomb that had exploded near a mosque was discovered on Saturday night. Around 150 people were evacuated from their homes, and 80 had to stay in temporary accommodation in the Walsall area on Saturday night to allow bomb disposal experts to make the device safe. West Midlands Police confirmed the blast heard by residents on Friday “appeared to be consistent” with the device exploding. No one was injured and the device caused minimal damage. The device was discovered in an alleyway adjoining the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Rutter Street.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said on Sunday evening: “The force is taking this attack against the mosque very seriously and we have a major investigation under way. “To that end, I have called in support from all over the force, including the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, which has a number of experts supporting the inquiry. She added: “At this stage we are keeping an open mind on a motive, but have recorded it as a hate crime.”
The mosque had been a part of the community for more than 40 years and held strong relations with communities of all faiths, often holding open days for non-Muslims. Councillor Zahid Ali, portfolio holder for public health and protection, said the community was standing together “shoulder to shoulder” in support of the police. “Walsall has really shown its mettle in coming together and responding with calm determination.”