A terrorist who planted bombs at three mosques in the Black Country was planning to ‘kill or maim’ in further attacks as part of his one-man race war, police revealed today.
Materials for another three explosive devices were found at the home of Ukrainian Pavlo Lapshyn.
Police today said the 25-year-old’s intention was to target innocent members of the public.
Lapshyn admitted planting a nail bomb which exploded at Kanz-ul-Iman mosque in Tipton in July.
He also confessed to making and planting two other bombs near mosques in Walsall and Wolverhampton and admitted the murder of grandfather Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham.
Police today said Lapshyn, who had arrived in the West Midlands on the pretence of joining an engineering firm to gain industry experience, was ‘extremely dangerous’.
Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “We found part-made devices in Lapshyn’s room plus chemicals and bomb-making equipment, so it is clear he planned to place further devices with the intention of killing or maiming innocent members of the public.”
Lapshyn’s 90-day campaign of terror began just five days after he entered the country.
He stabbed Mohammed Saleem three times in the back as his 82-year-old victim walked home from evening prayers.
On June 21, he targeted Walsall’s Aisha Mosque in Rutter Street, Caldmore, when he planted explosive devices in a child’s lunch box at the mosque gates.
Seven days later he placed a bomb on a roundabout near Wolverhampton Central Mosque.
But his most serious attack was at Kanz-ul-Iman mosque in Tipton, where he packed hundreds of nails in a bomb on a railway embankment next to the mosque’s car park.
By a stroke of luck, Friday afternoon prayers were being held an hour later than usual on the first Friday of Ramadan.
Nobody was injured in any of the blasts.
DS Edwards said Lapshyn had intended to target worshippers as they arrived for prayers.
“All three of the devices he detonated were powerful but his final attack in Tipton was the first to feature shrapnel and nails,” he said.
“He placed this near the mosque’s car park with the intention of hitting worshippers as they arrived for prayers.
“In interview, Lapshyn stressed he was acting alone, not part of a wider cell or influenced by any group and was keen to take credit for masterminding and carrying out the attacks.”
Speaking to police after his arrest, Lapshyn said he had planted the bombs because he wanted to ‘increase racial hatred’.
He told officers: “I did it because they are not white and I am white. My purpose was to commit a terrorist act.”
He said he had targeted Mr Saleem because of ‘racial hatred’.
West Midlands Police are now working with the Ukrainian authorities to try to find out more about Lapshyn’s background and history.
West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: “Lapshyn was extremely dangerous.
“It is of great relief that he is not free to walk the streets any further. He is an evil and completely ill-informed man.
“There is no justification for the crimes he committed or the intent that he has. He was operating along, he was a lone actor.
“This case was finally cracked because of the quality of evidence-gathering done around the CCTV following the first bomb attack.”
Lapshyn appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday where he admitted murdering Mr Saleem, causing an explosion on July 12 and engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between April 24 and July 18.
He will be back at the Old Bailey on Friday to be sentenced.
Mosque leaders in the Black Country today said they were pleased Lapshyn was caught when he was.
Mr Mushtaq Hussain, chairman of Kanz-ul-Iman Muslim Mosque, said: “I presume he would have targeted more mosques.
“He already had three bomb blasts under him and a murder, he had a bomb factory at this home and there was no stopping him and it was good they caught him when they did.
“Luckily no-one was hurt at our mosque from the blast, but luck runs out and who says he would get it wrong again. He would be the wiser on prayer times and on knowing when to attack.”
Speaking outside court yesterday, Mr Saleem’s daughter Shazia Khan welcomed the outcome of the hearing.
“Our dad was a lovely, kind man who left prayers for the last time that night. He did not do anything to deserve this horrific killing other than being a Muslim,” she said.
“It’s such a pity that he has lost his whole life for some personal hatred or opinion that he has of a particular faith. To kill someone because of what they look like and what they believe in is unforgivable.”