CAIRO – The brutal murder of an elderly Muslim granddad has shocked Birmingham after detectives investigating the incident said they believe he may have been targeted in a racist attack.
"To the attacker I say we will find you and we will bring you to justice,” Detective Superintendent Mark Payne, the officer in charge of the inquiry, told The Daily Telegraph on Friday, May 3.
“Anybody capable of stabbing a 75-year-old man in the back three times needs to be in jail and that's where we will put them."
Mohammed Saleem, who walked with a stick, was knifed four times in the back so viciously on Monday night that the wounds penetrated his chest.
A retired baker with five daughters, two sons and 22 grandchildren, Saleem had lived in Little Green Lane, Small Heath, Birmingham, with his wife, Said Begum, 69, for 40 years.
Adding to the puzzle, the victim, who had no “defensive wounds”, was not robbed and his family have said there was no reason they knew why anyone would want to hurt him.
Payne said the issue of motive was "wide open" but Saleem followed the same route to the mosque, five times a day, and never carried any money.
Ruling out robbery, Payne said he was not excluding the possibility the stabbing was racially motivated.
“We’re not inclined to believe this was a robbery gone wrong. This was a brutal and sadistic attack,” he said.
“We would not rule out racism as a motive.
“There’s no evidence to suggest he knew his killer or that there’s a counter terrorism link to this,” Payne added.
At a news conference, police released CCTV clips showing a white man running along Wyndcliff Road, next to Little Green Lane, at the time of the stabbing.
The man was described as aged 25 to 32 and was about 5ft 8ins tall. He was of medium build and has brown hair.
He was wearing a distinctive beanie-style hat ribbed or striped, a light-coloured top and dark bottoms.
“The man seen running nearby is being treated as a person of interest for the inquiry team. We need to know who he is, so if anyone believes they recognise him I’d urge them to contact us,” Payne said.
“We don’t know the status of this man to the inquiry. It may be he’s unconnected to the murder so I’d also encourage him to make contact so we can eliminate him from our enquiries.”
In an emotional family appeal, two of Saleem's daughters Shazia Khan, 45, who lives in London and Nazia Maqsood, 44, said it was "difficult to accept the brutality" of his death, which was "sad and devastating".
“If I look out of my (old) bedroom window I can see where my dad was killed and how he was killed and we have to live with that,” tearful Shazia Khan told a news conference on Thursday, Birmingham Mail reported.
“We have to walk past where he was killed. The (family) house feels very empty now.
“He had such a huge impact on all of us.
“He had a great sense of humor and was very funny - very tongue-in-cheek.
“Everyone at the mosque admired him, he had no enemies,” she added.
Another daughter, Nazia Maqsood, said the pain felt by the family was “unbearable”.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine something like this could happen,” she said.
“It’s unbearable, unbelievable and we just can’t comprehend what he must have gone through at the time.
“Please, we urge you to go to the police and tell them anything that can bring justice for my dad.”
Britain's 2.7 million Muslims have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.
Police data shows that 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks were reported in Britain in 2010.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.