A note alleged to have been written by a knifeman who stabbed staff and shoppers at a branch of Marks and Spencer in Burnley read: “O Israel, you are inflicting atrocities on Palestinians and Marks Spencer helping you financially.”
Munawar Hussain, 58, has denied a charge of attempted murder and two alternative counts of wounding with intent at Manchester Crown Court in connection with the incident, in which he used a knife to wound the shop manager in the neck before chasing her through the store on 2nd December 2020. He then stabbed a customer in the arm before the blade snapped, having become stuck in the customer’s handbag strap.
It was reported at the time that antisemitic rhetoric was also heard during the incident.
Following the attack, Mr Hussain reportedly tried to flee the scene but was detained outside by the shop’s security guard and members of the public before police arrived.
The court heard that, following his arrest, a note in Urdu was found on his person that read: “O Israel, you are inflicting atrocities on Palestinians and Marks Spencer helping you financially.”
It is understood that he was discovered to have had a history of mental health problems but was considered fit to answer questions and stand trial.
According to the prosecution, “he told the police that he had targeted Marks and Spencer deliberately because he believed Marks and Spencer funded Israel in what he described as its persecution of Palestine. He said that had his knife not broken he would have gone on to kill others. He said that he expected that the police might kill him and he intended to be a martyr.”
The store manager, who suffered a collapsed lung and nerve damage, told police that her assailant was wearing a COVID mask and that his eyes “looked pure evil”. She added: “If I had fallen he would have killed me. I just thought he is not taking me away from my kids.”
Jurors have been told that the accused does not dispute stabbing her or the customer, and that the issue for the jury is to determine his intention at the time. Judge Nicholas Dean QC, the Honorary Recorder of Manchester, told the jury: “The prosecution say that Mr Hussain had a terrorist motive for his actions. Even if you are sure he had such motivation it does not necessarily follow he had an intent to kill.”
The trial continues.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews more than four times likelier to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.