A Muslim youth with paranoid schizophrenia, who yesterday pleaded guilty to killing one and injuring five, repeatedly sought help at mosques instead of a hospital as his condition deteriorated.
Zakaria Bulhan, 19, whose parents are Somali, was born in Norway and grew up in South London. He denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility following the attack on the 3rd of August last year.
Terrorism was ruled out as a motive, yet the attacker was found with a prayer book entitled Fortress of the Muslim and muttered “Allah, Allah, Allah” on arrest, The Times reports.
His book contained an extremist Salafist prayer instructing followers to “die a shahid”, before explaining that a shahid is: “One who dies fighting the kafir [unbelievers] in order to make the word of Allah superior or in defence of Islam”.
Witnesses claimed Mr. Bulhan “skipped” towards his victims and had a crazed smile on his face as he killed 64-year-old retired teacher Darlene Horton, who was visiting from Florida, and stabbed five others.
The court was told how he had been treated by a community mental health team on April 20th, and by last May, his mother had been forced to call the emergency services three times because he had behaved aggressively and taken knives from the kitchen.
However, as the youth’s mental health problems became more apparent, his father took him to Camberwell Mosque in South London to find help rather than seeking medical treatment.
On the day of the stabbings, Mr. Bulhan had been taken to East London Mosque. But he ran off, convinced that a member of the congregation was filling him with evil spirits.
“I did everything I could to stop it, I went to the psychiatrist, I went to the mosque and I did prayers. It’s like something took control of me”, he later told a psychiatrist.