Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

‘Nightmare straight out of movies’ UAE man describes terror of robbery in London flat

Ali Al Tamimi described how seven masked men broke into his London apartment wearing Scream masks and brandishing weapons, saying it resembled a scene from a Hollywood movie
“I was thinking I was in a dream.” Ali Al Tamimi tells of his ordeal at the hands of robbers.  Randi Sokoloff for The National
“I was thinking I was in a dream.” Ali Al Tamimi tells of his ordeal at the hands of robbers. Randi Sokoloff for The National

LONDON // The Emirati victim of an armed attack in London thought he was close to death as seven robbers wearing masks from the horror film Scream threatened him with a gun and a knife as he lay on the floor.

Ali Al Tamimi, in London with his wife for a check-up after treatment for stomach cancer, said he could not stop reliving the nightmare in the early hours of Tuesday, saying it was “straight out of a movie”.

Mr Al Tamimi, 51, was speaking to The National in a London hotel near the flat to which the couple were moved by the UAE Embassy. They are under police protection. He revealed further details of the attack, the second on Emiratis within a fortnight.

“Believe me, if anyone had told me this story I would not believe it because of the number of people in the attack, the weapons involved,” he said, still visibly shaken from his ordeal. “I was thinking I was in a dream, I am in the movies.”

Mr Al Tamimi, a grandfather from Dubai, said his wife, 47, had been unable to sleep for the past four nights as she recalled one of the men bursting into the bedroom of the Paddington flat as she prayed, pressing a knife against her neck and demanding cash and jewellery.

“They said: ‘I will kill your husband if you don’t give me your money’,” he said. He was sitting in the living area with a friend when they burst in.

“Then about 12.30am somebody rang the bell, the intercom. I picked up and said ‘hello’, but no answer. After 10 minutes we heard noise. They hit the door with a hammer. After that I see the first guy with a knife.

“I was thinking there was one or two. When I saw him come inside of the flat he came near to me and I closed the door over his hand. My friend helped me to push the door.

“But then we saw four or five people. I was scared for me, my wife, my friend. They starting to shout at us. One was trying to hit me with the knife three times but I am in his face. He had a mask, like from the Scream film. Like the movies.”

Mr Al Tamimi said four or five of the men wore the black and white masks from the slasher movie.

“They said, ‘Where is the money?’ My wife was inside the bedroom. I was praying they would not hear her. But there heard her as she did not understand what was happening and said ‘Ali, Ali, what is happening?’”.

“They go to the bedroom and I was still on the ground and they were tying to hit me and my friend was down also.

“When I pushed the mask over his face he started to become angry. One of them said, ‘He saw your face. Hit him.’ The other guy said, ‘Shoot him’.”

Mr Al Tamimi said he believed he might die as he lay on the floor.

“I prayed,” he said, closing his eyes as he relived the moment.

But then, he said, there was a sign from God.

“They go again to hit me with the knife and with a gun, and we were lucky there was a noise from an ambulance.”

The siren spooked the gang, who fled, he said.

“Before they were planning to hit me again but they heard the noise and they left. You don’t believe seven people carrying a knife, a hammer and guns – a real gun.”

Mr Al Tamimi said he and his family had been visiting London for 35 years.

“We stay everywhere in London nothing has happened like this. Of course I am still having nightmares. My family feels very bad. My wife has not slept in four days. She keeps hearing the voice of one of the men.”

He said neighbours had phoned police to report a disturbance and officers arrived very quickly.

Westminster police said the gang made off with two mobile phones, nearly Dh19,000 in cash, two passports, handbags and a bank card.

One man was armed with a black handgun and one with a silver pistol. Three stood outside the rented flat while the robbery took place.

Investigations are continuing.

Scotland Yard confirmed yesterday that no arrests had yet been made.

Updated: April 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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