Choudhry in her mugshot by the Metropolitan Police
|Born||1989 (age 26–27)
Newham, London, England
|Criminal charge||Attempted murder|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (minimum 15 years)|
|Criminal status||In prison|
Roshonara Choudhry (Bengali: রুশনারা চৌধুরী; born 1989) is a former British student and an Islamic extremist who stabbed British MP Stephen Timms on 14 May 2010 during his constituency surgery in an attempt to kill him. She was found guilty of attempted murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years. Choudhry is the first al-Qaeda sympathiser to attempt an assassination in Britain.
Choudhry was born in Newham, East London, and lived in East Ham. She was the eldest child and attended Plashet School in East Ham, later studying for her A-levels at Newham Sixth Form College. She had been in the final year of a degree in English and communications at King's College, London, but had dropped out shortly before the attempt on Timms' life. In a police interview, she stated that she dropped out due to finding the university to be anti-Islamic, as they had given an award to the Israeli politician Shimon Peres and ran counter-radicalisation programmes.
On 14 May 2010, Timms was approached by 21-year-old Roshonara Choudhry, during his constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe Library in Kingsford Way, Beckton, East London. She acted as though she was going to shake his hand, and then stabbed him twice in his abdomen with a 6-inch kitchen knife, before she was disarmed.
She made "very full admissions" to the police, saying that she had been influenced by dozens of hours of sermons that she had watched of Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. She said her attack was to punish Timms for voting for the Iraq War, and revenge for the Iraqi people. She said she attacked Timms "because I’m a Muslim and all Muslims are brothers and sisters", that she was "trying to kill him", and said "I wasn’t going to stop stabbing him until someone made me."
Timms suffered "potentially life-threatening" wounds: lacerations to the left lobe of his liver, and a perforation to his stomach. A senior police officer said he "was extremely fortunate not to have been killed". He underwent emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital, from which he was discharged on 19 May.
Choudhry chose not to attend her trial for attempted murder at the Old Bailey, saying she did not recognize the court's jurisdiction. The prosecutor ruled out any suggestion that she suffered from a mental illness. On 2 November, Choudhry was found guilty of Timms' attempted murder. She was subsequently given a life sentence, with a recommendation that she serve a minimum jail term of 15 years.
After the court case, Timms said he was not bitter, but that forgiveness was not possible until his attacker showed remorse. He was seeking the banning of incendiary material on popular internet sites "to protect other vulnerable young people from going down the same road."
The Revolution Muslim website described Choudhry as a heroine for stabbing Timms, posted a prayer to destroy the enemies of Islam that named Timms, and responded to her conviction for attacking Timms by publishing a list of MPs who voted in favour of the Iraq War as Timms had, giving advice as to how to find details of their constituency surgeries. It stated: "We ask Allah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of Jihad against those who voted for the countless murders, rapes, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote."
As a Category A prisoner, Choudhry must be strip searched before and after being visited. For religious reasons she does not allow this, and instead chooses to remain in solitude.
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