21 year old Ishmerai Muhammad explains how he came face to face with the men behind the recent London Bridge Terror Attack
In the third attack by alleged “Islamic extremists” this year in the UK, three men claimed the lives of 8 people and injured a further 48 after mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbing a number of civilians in London Borough Market before being killed by Police last week. The attack came just weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured over 100 more at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
While press coverage and political debate since has centred around Islamic extremism and terrorism – few people are aware of the two young Black Muslim men who courageously fought against the attackers before Police arrived and led armed officers to the scene in a display which highlighted the true principles of Islam.
Ishmerai Muhammad, a member of the Nation of Islam, was working as a security guard for a Mexican restaurant by London Borough Market when he and his colleague Osman Gandaa heard loud commotion in a pub a few doors down.
“I heard screaming, glass smashing and saw a bar stool being thrown out of one of the pubs,” he recalls.
At first both men assumed a fight was taking place but as they moved closer – Ishmerai says he saw an Asian man with what appeared to be a red knife.
“There was a crowd of people and this man was walking towards us with this red knife which we soon realised was drenched with blood.”
“Then he raised his knife and shouted ‘this is for Allah’ – two people appeared behind him and the three of them starting running towards us shouting and screaming.”
Panic ensued and the men stabbed one young woman, who happened to be a colleague of both Mr Gandaa and Mr Muhammad who both sparked into action.
“We literally just grabbed whatever was in reach – tables, chairs, glasses to try and draw their attention and corner them off,” he explains.
“Then they focused on us and one of them shouted ‘we’ll kill black man too’”
As a fight ensued between the young men and the three killers, Ishmerai says he noticed what appeared to be a suicide vest on one of the men and pulled his colleague back.
“When I saw the gas canisters – that’s when I realised that this was actually an attack. I pulled Osman back and when he saw it we retreated and they chased us up the street.”
Once they had got around the corner, both tried to call the police but were unable to get through. It was then that they decided to go back and try to evacuate the area.
“We came to a conscious decision at the same time and when Oz (Osman) said we had to go back I said to him ‘I’m with you’ – we just had to put our trust in Allah.”
Considering the number of pubs and restaurants in the market, a suicide bomb would have been catastrophic and with many people barricaded inside – both men felt a strong obligation to do something.
“For me I just felt I couldn’t leave all those defenceless people in harms way – the people I work with, the women and children who were in the market – we didn’t know the suicide vest was a fake.”
As they returned to the scene, Ishmerai says he heard Police sirens in the distance heading to the London Bridge where the men had mowed down pedestrians minutes earlier.
“I don’t think they knew what had happened in the Borough market yet, so when I saw them going past I ran as hard as I could to catch them.”
Eventually he led the armed police to the scene and witnessed the killing of the all three men. Over fifty bullets were fired.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that and I can’t say I would have expected myself to act like that in such a situation but as a member of the Fruit of Islam (the name given to the men in the Nation of Islam) under the Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan we’re taught that we have a responsibility to defend those unable to defend themselves.”
Speaking into the use of the term “Islamic extremists” which has dominated much coverage of the attacks – Ishmerai believes it’s wrong to associate men who would indiscriminately kill people with the religion of Islam.
“The media do a lot of damage calling these kind of people “Islamic” because their actions have nothing to do with Islam – there’s nothing in the Holy Quran, the Sunnah or the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which advocates the murder of innocent people.”
“I think it’s very ironic that as two young Black Muslim men we put our lives on the line to protect people from them – that’s the spirit of Islam.”
Following the attack, The British Muslim Forum, a coalition of approximately 500 Imams condemned the “vile murders” and refused to perform Islamic prayers at their funerals. An investigation into the attack has resulted in over 20 arrests so far and continues.