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Man pleads guilty after sledgehammer attack on five mosques

By Megan Archer | Birmingham | Crime | Published:

A man who attacked five Birmingham mosques with a sledgehammer has pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage.

PIC FROM Michael Scott / Caters News - (PICTURED: Mosque & Muslim Community Centre in Aston, Birmingham) - Four Mosques have been vandalised in the early hours.Police were called to Birchfield Road, Birmingham, today (THURS) after reports of a man smashing a mosque with a sledgehammer at 2.32am.Since the first report, three other places of worship were attacked on Witton road, in Aston, and Broadway, Perry bar. The motive behind the attacks, which are being treated as linked is yet to be discovered however West Midlands Police and the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit are investigating the instances.SEE CATERS COPY

Arman Rezazadeh, aged 34, smashed windows of five north Birmingham mosques in the early hours of March 21 this year, sparking widespread concern in the community.

Rezazadeh first struck at the Witton Islamic Centre on Witton Road, Aston, at around 1.25am on March 21.

CCTV showed him smashing through a window with a sledgehammer, which then fell into the building as he lost grip.

Rezazadeh, a Muslim of Iranian descent who has lived in the UK for around 20 years, returned 30 minutes later and continued the attack, leaving all outside windows broken and causing £3,100 of damage.

Several mosques were damaged. Picture by Caters News

Minutes later, he struck at the Masjid Madrassa Faziul Islam Centre on The Broadway, Perry Barr, smashing three more windows, causing £300 of damage.

Then at around 2.15am, he attacked the Al-Habib Trust on Birchfield Road, Aston.

Again, he was caught on CCTV as he smashed nine windows, causing £1,000 of damage.

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Around 15 minutes later, he struck at the Jamia Masjid Ghausia on Albert Road, smashing five windows and causing £5,000 of damage.

Finally, at around 3am, he smashed the front windows of the Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef on Slade Road, Erdington, smashing windows at the side of the mosque.

A major hate crime investigation was launched, with support from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, and Rezazadeh handed himself in at Birmingham Central police station at around 1.30pm the following day.

In interview, Rezazadeh behaved erratically and initially denied responsibility.

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One of the mosques smashed - in Aston, Birmingham. Picture by Caters News

He later said he disagreed with the teachings of an Imam at another mosque, and said he only handed himself in so he could have an audience with a judge to tell him about the imam.

Rezazadeh was detained under the mental health act, before being deemed fit to stand trial.

Today he pleaded guilty to five charges of religiously aggravated damage. He was bailed to come back for sentencing in four weeks.

Ch Supt Kenny Bell, in charge of policing in Birmingham East, said: "We fully understand the major impact that these attacks on sacred places of worship had on the Muslim community in Birmingham, especially as they happened just days after the appalling terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch.

"They were quite understandably left worried and angry by what had happened.

"We offered all our support and assistance to the affected mosques right from the outset, and that support in terms of security advice and listening to their concerns continues right to this day.

"It has rightly been treated as a hate crime, something we take incredibly seriously.

"There are great relationships between faith communities, and between those communities and the police in the West Midlands, and we will not allow isolated incidents like this to in any way damage those relationships."

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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