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Woman gets 15 years for UK lawmaker stabbing

Woman gets 15 years for UK lawmaker stabbing

A British university student radicalized by online sermons from an al-Qaida-linked Muslim cleric was sentenced Wednesday to at least 15 years in prison for trying to murder a lawmaker because he supported the Iraq war.
Roshonara Choudhry, 21, stabbed legislator Stephen Timms twice in the stomach with a kitchen knife as he met constituents at a London community center in May.
She told detectives she wanted to kill Timms "to get revenge for the people of Iraq."
British officials say Choudhry had downloaded sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born Yemeni cleric who has inspired a string of attempted attacks against the West, including the airline cargo bomb plot uncovered last week.
Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed Wednesday that the influence of al-Awlaki's group, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was a factor in the attack on Timms.
Choudhry, a communications and English major at London's prestigious King's College, refused to appear in court, saying she didn't accept its jurisdiction, and instructed her lawyer not to challenge the prosecution's case.
She was convicted Tuesday after a one-day trial and less than 15 minutes of jury deliberation.
Choudhry appeared by video link from prison Wednesday as Judge Jeremy Cooke sentenced her to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.
"You said you ruined the rest of your life," the judge said. "You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr."
The judge told Choudhry she was not mentally ill but "simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately."
"You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the Internet," he added.
Timms, 55, was a minister in Britain's previous Labour Party government. Its decision to support the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq _ backed by a vote in Parliament _ was deeply unpopular in Britain.
He has made a full recovery from his wounds.
After sentencing, Timms said his attacker was an intelligent woman who had decided to "throw it all away."
"I think it is alarming that she seems to have reached that conclusion simply by spending time on the Internet," he told BBC radio.
All British lawmakers hold regular sessions in which constituents can present problems and complaints.
In January 2000, Liberal Democrat lawmaker Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during such a meeting. Pennington was killed and Jones injured in the attack in Cheltenham, England.
Timms said he had "slightly rearranged" his security since the attack, but that "there is a limit to what you can do."
"It is very important that as a member of Parliament I am accessible to constituents. That's my job."


Updated : 2021-05-07 01:14 GMT+08:00