Extraordinary bravery of shop worker who tackled man with a grenade shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’
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A shop worker has been commended by a judge for his “extraordinary bravery” after tackling a man holding a hand grenade and shouting “allahu akbar”.
Aser Kheder was only looking after the mobile phone shop for a short time while the owner went to pray at a mosque.
But he was confronted by Abdul Ibrahim, who came in making death threats and shouting things indicating it was a possible terrorist attack.
A court heart Mr Kheder, who used to be in the Kurdish security services, recognised the device as a genuine Russian grenade and feared he and others were about to be blown up.
Despite his terror, he courageously tackled Kheder to stop him pulling the pin out at the Mobile Connection shop, on Westgate Road, Newcastle.
It later turned out the grenade was deactivated and 61-year-old Ibrahim carried out the bomb hoax and threats because the shop had refused to buy some phones from him.
As Ibrahim was jailed for five years at Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Kheder – who believed the grenade was live – told how he was determined to stop Ibrahim hurting innocent children from nearby schools and members of the public in the busy shopping area.
Mr Kheder, whose courage was commended and rewarded by a judge, said he had come to England as a refugee and added: “The UK opened their arms for us, showed us respect and gave us an opportunity to live here.
“If the grenade had exploded, many people could have been killed.
“I was scared and shocked but during those seconds I didn’t think about what would happen but about what to do to stop something happening.
“When he tried to pull the pin out of the grenade I was between life and death.
“Even though I was extremely frightened I thought of the consequences of what would happen because of the people around me and I was also concerned about the children’s school nearby.
“I was worried innocent people and children would come to serious harm if I did not stop him.”
Mr Kheder said he had mixed emotions afterwards but despite some people telling him he should not have stopped Ibrahim, he insisted he would do it again.
“I was pleased about having stopped an evil act but on the other hand I was very frightened for myself and specifically my family,” he said.
“Since the incident, some people have said I should not have intervened to stop the defendant. I find that sort of attitude very upsetting and disturbing.
“I want the court to know these people’s attitudes will not stop me doing the right thing and stopping bad people from doing bad things.”
The court heard Ibrahim had initially gone to the shop on Thursday February 28 last year and asked owner, Burhan Mohammed, to charge some phones.
The next day, he returned and offered to sell the phones but Mr Mohammed declined.
Mr Mohammed then asked Mr Kheder to look after the shop briefly while he went to pray and as he entered the shop, he was aware of Ibrahim and another man following behind.
Ibrahim said to Mr Kheder “This is the last day of your life,” then said he was joking.
Neil Pallister, prosecuting, said he then saw Ibrahim put his hand in his jacket pocket and was shocked to see he was holding a grenade.
Ibrahim started shouting “allahu akbar” “Allah is great” and “No God except Allah”.
Mr Pallister said: “The defendant moved his right hand towards the pin of the grenade and, believing it to be real, Mr Kheder thought the man was a terrorist and was intending to commit what the witness described as an evil act.
“Mr Kheder felt he had to act in order to prevent a catastrophe and placed his hand over the grenade, stopping the defendant from putting his finger into the ring of the pin.
“Mr Kheder then forcibly twisted the defendant’s hand and the grenade fell to the ground. He then wrestled the defendant to the ground.”
The man with Ibrahim kicked Mr Kheder before running off.
Mr Kheder kept Ibrahim pinned down as he shouted “you m***********”, “I will kill you anyway”, “you are a dog son of a b****”, “allahu akbar”, “Allah is great” and “there’s no God except Allah”. He also spat at the shop worker.
The victim, who was worried what might be in Ibrahim’s backpack, called for his friend at the shop next door to help and police were called.
While waiting for police to arrive, Ibrahim begged Mr Kheder to let him go and banged his own head on the floor, at which point Mr Kheder put a jacket under his head to protect him.
When interviewed by police, Ibrahim said the grenade was bought by someone else from an army surplus store on Westgate Road.
Mobile phone shop owner Mr Mohammed said he was extremely scared when he got back from the mosque and saw Ibrahim with the grenade and said he had also been threatened for assisting in his apprehension.
He said: “I love the UK and will do anything to stop things like this.”
Ibrahim, of Deckham Terrace, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill and making a hoax bomb threat.
Judge Amanda Rippon said Mr Kheder had shown “extraordinary bravery” in tackling Ibrahim, who she said was “motivated by or demonstrated hostility based on a religion”.
The judge commended Mr Kheder and awarded him £300, saying: “It would be wholly remiss of me not to reflect on Mr Kheder. Seldom to courts see such extraordinary bravery on behalf of members of the public.”
Jonathan Pigford, defending, said: “There was no rationale for this defendant’s behaviour, the catalyst appears to be the frustration in relation to the transaction in relation to the mobile phones.
“It’s an incredible over-reaction to what was a very trivial matter involving mobile phones.”
Mr Pigford added that Ibrahim was intoxicated and mentally unwell and said the incident in the shop only lasted two to three minutes, although there was then a further 15 minutes outside the shop before a police officer arrived.
He said: “The defendant does not accept this was motivated by a religious aspect although clearly the comments made by him, it’s difficult for someone to say otherwise.”
Source: Chronicle Live