x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE couple tell of ordeal at hands of armed gang in London attack

The bandits tried to stab the man several times, while the woman had a gun and knife pointed at her at one stage.

DUBAI // The Emirati couple who were attacked in their London flat on Tuesday, along with a friend from the UAE, by an armed gang of seven have spoken of their terrifying ordeal.

Ali Al Tamimi, 51, and his wife, 47, had been in the city for five days when the men – two armed with handguns and another with a butcher’s knife – stormed into the property at Westbourne Gardens, Paddington, in the early hours.

The woman at one stage had a gun pointed at her head, and the bandits tried to stab Mr Al Tamimi several times. The couple were travelling without their children.

Mr Al Tamimi, from Ajman, told Dubai TV that their Emirati friend had come to visit just before midnight. A short time later, someone rang the intercom.

“I picked up but no one answered so I returned to my guest, but then we heard a loud sound like an explosion,” he said.

“When I rushed to check I saw the main door to the apartment wide open and a man holding a knife coming toward us.

“I rushed to close a door between us and him but the door pushed us back and then four or five other men rushed in carrying knives, hammers and guns. One of the guns was a 9-millimetre.”

Some of the men went into the bedroom to his wife.

“I was still resisting the attackers and managed to evade two stabs, and also managed to unmask one of them,” Mr Al Tamimi said. “My eye was in his and his colleague started yelling at him to shoot me because I saw his face.

“At that moment, and before he tried to stab me for a third time, they heard the siren of an ambulance that was not ordered by us. They got scared, stole many items then fled.”

Westminster police said the gang made off with two mobile phones, about Dh4,000 in cash, £2,400 (Dh14,792) 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.

The four who entered the property were wearing masks.

None of the three victims required hospital treatment, although Mr Al Tamini’s wife had called her brother and told him her husband had some minor injuries.

“He suffered bruises and one of his fingers was injured by one of the attacker’s knives,” said the woman’s brother, Abdullah Rashid, on Ajman’s Al Rabeaa radio station.

The wife said she was told to sit down and a gun was pointed at her head while another attacker pointed a knife at her. They were shouting at her, asking for money.

“She told us that she pointed at her purse, trying to tell the attackers that the money was in there but then they went through her bag and didn’t even take the jewellery she had in the bag,” her brother said.

“They threw away the passports and then, when they heard the sirens, they fled.”

Det Supt David Manning, of Westminster police, said: “This is obviously a very serious incident. Although those involved were not injured, they were left traumatised by their ordeal.

“I would appeal to anyone with any information or any witnesses to contact us as soon as possible to identify those involved.”

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “This is obviously a frightening incident for those involved but I would like to reassure visitors to the capital that they will be safe here.

“Obviously we understand there are concerns about recent incidents, but I would reiterate that officers are doing all they can to find those responsible for this latest incident.”

The robbery follows the brutal hammer attack on three Emirati sisters at the Cumberland Hotel in London on April 7.

Mr Rowley added: “It is worth noting that following the assault involving UAE nationals at the Cumberland Hotel, four people have been charged in connection with this. They are going through the judicial process.

“We acknowledge the tragic coincidence of two serious violent attacks against residents of the UAE in London and the concern that it is bound to cause, but there is no reason to suggest these incidents are linked.

“We believe the victims in this latest case were not targeted because of their nationality.”

Mr Al Tamini spoke of how Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, had called to make sure he was safe.

He said many other Rulers, including Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman, and Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid, the emirate’s Crown Prince, had also called.

“I would like to thank all our sheikhs,” Mr Al Tamimi said. “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, despite being in Brazil on a business trip, made sure to call and check on us.

“The UAE’s entire authorities called and supported us, and the embassy provided us with security.

“I would have never imagined something like this would happen to us. I used to see it in movies but did not imagine it would happen to us.

“I doubt we will ever forget this experience.”

Abdulrahman Al Mutaiwi, UAE Ambassador to the UK, said neighbours had alerted police at 1.10am and that some of the stolen items were recovered by police.

UAE Embassy officials arrived and helped to move the couple’s belongings to another flat near the embassy.

Mr Al Tamini and his wife have been advised to remain in London until the police investigation is completed.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the incident was not being treated as a hate crime and no arrests had been made.

On April 6 attack, Ohoud Al Najjar, 34, lost her left eye and now has only 5 per cent brain function. Her sister, Khuloud, 36, suffered two skull fractures, a broken left arm and a fractured cheekbone.

The third victim, Fatima, 31, has a fractured skull and a ruptured left eardrum.

Philip Spence, 32, appeared in court and was charged with three counts of attempted murder and one of aggravated burglary.

Thomas Efremi, 56, was charged with handling stolen goods and fraud by false representation, while James Moss, 33, was also charged with handling stolen goods.

The next hearing in this case will take place at Southwark Crown Court on July 3.

Anyone with information on the latest incident is asked to called Westminster CID on 0044 778 818 6208.

salamir@thenational.ae

* As a result of an editing error, the names of two of the three Emirati sisters attacked at the Cumberland Hotel in London were transposed in an earlier version of this article. Ohoud Al Najjar, 34, the middle daughter is in a coma, not Khuloud Al Najjar.