Man arrested on suspicion of two separate fire attacks near mosques in London and Birmingham
The Metropolitan Police said an incident in Edgbaston, Birmingham, in which a man was set alight on his way home from a mosque on Monday has been linked to a similar incident in Ealing, west London, where another man was set on fire in February.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder in relation to the incidents.
Detectives from the Met’s West Area Command are working with West Midlands Police to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incidents, with the West Midlands force is leading the investigation.
The Met said counter terror officers are supporting the investigations but officers are keeping an open mind as to any potential motivation.
The news comes as the son of the 70-year-old man set alight just yards from his house as he walked home from a Birmingham pleaded for help saying “my dad is on fire”, the family’s lawyer has said.
The incident left Mohammed Rayaz, a retired factory worker, with severe burns to his face, hands and chest.
He remains in stable condition in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after events unfolded just around the corner from his home in Shenstone Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, at about 7pm on Monday.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, the blackened remnants of Mr Rayaz’s coat can still be seen on the pavement, after he tried desperately to remove the jacket as he was engulfed in flames.
On Wednesday, police, assisted by counter-terrorism officers, have been continuing to question a man arrested in connection with the incident.
Family friend and lawyer Shahbon Hussain, whose office is opposite the mosque, said he got a text message from Mr Rayaz’s son, Mohammed Ayaz, within minutes of the attack.
He said: “I got a text message saying, ‘my dad is on fire – somebody has lit my dad on fire’.
“I thought I had misread and that maybe someone had set his car on fire but it became obvious I hadn’t misread at all.
“He heard his dad screaming, the family had gone out the house and seen him on fire.
“I immediately went over and the police, ambulance and fire brigade were already there.”
Mr Hussain, who also chairs the local Streetwatch group, said: “He was taken to hospital and, in the meantime, I started detective work, putting every clue we had onto the community’s WhatsApp group, which is 160 people and managed to collate all CCTV and Ring doorbell footage.
“All that was passed to the counter-terrorism unit officers.”
He added there was a community meeting between police and locals on the Tuesday morning and, after it had ended, Mr Hussain got another call to say a man matching the description of a suspect was at Dudley Road mosque.