London Bridge Attacker profiles

Three men perpetrated the attack last Saturday night in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas. All three men have been identified by Scotland Yard.

The most recent attacker to be identified is 22-year-old, Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba. Prior to the attack, he had been living in East London and working at a restaurant. Although the Italian police previously prevented him from travelling to Syria via Istanbul to allegedly join ISIS fighting, they did not share this information with British intelligence and Zaghba was not known to British authorities. He was born in Morocco and lived there most of his life.His mother lives in Italy, as she is separated from his father.

One of the other attackers, Khuram Butt, was known to police and MI5 but police had no understanding of this attack. Butt appeared in a Channel 4 TV documentary called, “The Jihadis Next Door” and was banned from his East London mosque for interrupting a sermon. He was born in Pakistan but came to the UK as a young child; he has been living in Barking, East London. He had a baby and a toddler. Butt was athletic and an Arsenal fan. He angered when he saw women cycling in his area. He played with neighbourhood children often. Butt worked for Transport for London and for a fast food restaurant.

Rachid Redouane, 30, is the third terrorist profiled in the article. He identified as Moroccan and Libyan; however, he sometimes also used the name Rachid Elkhdar. At the time of his death, he was carrying an Irish ID card, which may have helped him obtain permission to enter the UK. He lived in Dublin previously for part of 2015 and possibly 2016. He was not known to police. He was a pastry chef. He married Charisse O’Leary in 2012, a British citizen who ever converted to Islam. Recently, the couple split after disagreements over raising their now 17-month-old daughter.

Muslim ‘heroes’ in the wake of Manchester Attack

Muslims ‘heroes’ were prominent in the initial response to the Manchester attack. This article highlights the stories of three Muslim men who made a  difference.

Tawqeer Rashid is a surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. After the crisis, he was called in at 1am and worked straight for 14 hours. He reported serious injuries and was shocked at the “level of depravity” necessary to carry out such an act.

Another Muslim man, Sam Arshad, owns a local taxi company, Street Cars. When his company started to receive calls from desperate families, trying to escape the area, he decided to direct his drivers to provide free rides from the stadium.

Zaffer Khan, who owns a restaurant, Bukhara, near the stadium provided free food and water to victims and emergency response workers.

There has also been a Muslim organisational response as Human Appeal, a Muslim charity, had raised £15,000 for victims and families between the attack and 27 May.

French jihadist sentenced to ten years in prison following return from Syria

Nicolas Moreau, a convicted French jihadist who returned from Syria, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criminal association with a terrorist organization.

The 32-year-old Frenchman was not present at the Paris correctional court since he refused to leave the prison where he is being held for the hearing.

Prosecutors had argued that Moreau presented an “extremely dangerous threat” and warned that he risked returning to his “jihadist commitment” once released.

 

A former fisherman from Nantes, Moreau fell into a life of petty crime before he was radicalised in prison and left France to join the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq. He stayed in the region for nearly a year and a half, according to prosecutors, and even ran a restaurant in the IS group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, during the last three months.

At a hearing on December 14, 2016, Moreau warned the court that if he was sentenced to more than 18 months in jail he would “return to armed combat”.

Born in South Korea and adopted by a French family at the age of four, Moreau lived in the western French city of Nantes and fell into delinquency after his adoptive parents divorced. He was sentenced to five years in jail for violent robbery and converted to Islam while in prison.

It was a trajectory of radicalization similar to his younger brother, Flavien Moreau, who became the first French jihadist to be tried upon his return from Syria. In November 2014, Flavien was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Both the brothers were born in South Korea before they were adopted as infants. But Flavien, the younger brother, spent only a few weeks in IS group-held territory since he was unable to cope with the jihadist group’s no-smoking policy. He entered Syria in November 2012, but returned to France weeks later to pick up an electronic cigarette. He was arrested in Turkey on his way back to Syria. Flavien is currently serving a seven-year term.

During his trial, Nicolas Moreau, the older brother, told the court he left the caliphate because he “became aware of the excesses of Daesh. He told judges he wanted to get married and return to normal life. But he also warned judges that: “If you put a heavy penalty on me, it will be harder to reintegrate me [into society]. I will take up arms again.”

Prosecutors however argued that Nicolas Moreau required a 10-year sentence since “he would return to his jihadist commitment” if released.

Anger after Muslim women denied service at French restaurant

Social media users have expressed anger after a video posted online appeared to show two Muslim women in France being told to leave a restaurant by a man, reportedly the boss, who called all Muslims “terrorists”.

“Terrorists are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists. This sentence says it all, analyse it,” the man said in the video released on Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place the night before at the Le Cenacle restaurant in Tremblay-en-France, an area in the suburbs of Paris.

“People like you, I don’t want them here,” he continued, “you are imposing yourself here […] get out.”

The women, one of whom appeared in the video wearing a headscarf, said they would leave.

Reports in France said that the man apologized on Sunday to a group of young people and members of the local Muslim community who had gathered outside Le Cenacle to ask him to explain his comments.

The restaurateur reportedly said one of his friends had died in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.

In a message on Twitter, Laurence Rossignol, the French minister for families, children and women’s rights, said she had ordered an investigation and called for sanctions against the “intolerable behavior” of the restaurant’s boss.

France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended the ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet, pending a definitive ruling.

The footage of the incident at the restaurant has been shared widely on social media, garnering many reactions of concern for increasing Islamphobia in the country.

In response to the incident, the Committee against Islamophobia in France said it would bring “psychological and legal assistance” to both women.

“What kills me in the scandalous video #Cenacle is the indifference of other clients,” the committee’s director, Marwan Muhammed, said on Twitter.

UK Muslims welcome the homeless in Christmas

A British Muslim has invited the needy and homeless to enjoy Christmas day for free in his restaurant in the British town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

“I’m Muslim, I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’m open on Christmas Day, to celebrate and help someone else’s religious festival,” Usman Majid, the owner of The Grill restaurant on Buckingham Street.

However, food was not the only service offered during the day. Currently, the staff are handing out clothes and are hoping to offer haircuts to all of those who have nowhere to go on Christmas day.

Usman also told us donations for it have been amazing.

“It’s cold, it’s bitter outside and we have a nice warm place, a nice warm meal, new clothes and a haircut if we can do it,” Majid said.

“We’re not saying we’re going to change your life, that’s unrealistic, it’s not going to happen, but for 8 or 9 hours I can affect your Christmas Day,” he added.

Fire destroys restaurant owned by terror suspect

July 14, 2014

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A fire has destroyed a New York restaurant owned by a man charged last month with plotting vengeance attacks against members of the U.S. military and the Muslim community.

Local media report that firefighters responded late Sunday night to a report of a fire at the former Mojoes Restaurant in Rochester.

Firefighters had to break down the boarded-up door of the building to get inside. Officials say the restaurant’s interior was destroyed.

In June, the restaurant’s 30-year-old owner, Mufid Elfgeeh, was arrested after federal prosecutors said he bought two unregistered guns from an FBI informant. Investigators say he plotted to kill returning U.S. troops for American actions overseas and Shiite Muslims over the civil war in Syria.

Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, is being held in Monroe County Jail.

The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred

June 13, 2014

One recent evening, Mr. Hegazy, 54, wearing a traditional kufi, sat with a coffee at one of his regular tables, with two Halal Guys carts within sight across the way. He will sometimes sit there late into the night. “To watch the guys,” he said, gesturing to the scene.

To proudly illustrate a story about the Halal Guys being the first halal cart to secure a trademark, he made a fast phone call in Arabic; moments later, a boyish-looking young man appeared at the table with a takeout bag bearing the logo as proof.

Before Mr. Hegazy arrives in the evenings, cart workers have been known to set out cones to secure him a parking spot on Sixth Avenue. The Halal Guys know how to work the street.

But things are about to change for the Guys. More than a decade after three Egyptian men switched from selling hot dogs from their Midtown cart to serving halal food to Muslim cabdrivers, the Halal Guys are about to become a fast-food chain. The company — founded by Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed — signed a deal with Fransmart, the restaurant franchise consulting firm that took Five Guys Burgers and Fries from four locations in Northern Virginia and helped turn it into a chain with more than 1,200 stores and more than $1 billion in sales last year. Qdoba, a Mexican food chain, is Fransmart’s other success story.

Within a year Fransmart hopes to open Halal Guys outlets in Los Angeles, along the East Coast, across Canada and in the Middle East. The five-year plan is for 100 locations, as well as a presence in Europe.

An early glimpse at what a Halal Guys franchise might look like will come next month when the first shop opens on 14th Street, just off Second Avenue. A second location is planned to open near Columbia University’s campus in the fall.

Zach Brooks, the founder of Midtownlunch.com, a popular blog that has chronicled the city’s street-food scene since 2006, has followed the Halal Guys for years. “Those carts probably pull in a couple hundred grand a year,” he said. “But I don’t want to sound like an idiot. They could be making a million bucks.”
As to why the brand has become so strong, appearing on the to-do lists of tourists and standing above countless imitators, that, too, is something of a mystery. Maybe, Mr. Brooks suggested, the Halal Guys used better meat? Maybe it was the white sauce that is slathered over everything? Maybe it’s because people can’t remember a time when they weren’t there?