Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Murder in Britain Stirs a Debate on Extremism ; Ukrainian Student Pleads Guilty to Killing Muslim and Bombing 3 Mosques

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Murder in Britain Stirs a Debate on Extremism ; Ukrainian Student Pleads Guilty to Killing Muslim and Bombing 3 Mosques

Article excerpt

Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, a student from Ukraine, has pleaded guilty to the murder of an 82-year-old Muslim man in Birmingham, England. "I have a racial hatred, so I have a motivation," he told police officers.

Pavlo Lapshyn, a gifted 25-year-old engineering student from Ukraine, had come to England after winning a prestigious placement at a software company. A special awards ceremony had been held at the British ambassador's residence in Kiev, and in April Mr. Lapshyn arrived in the city of Birmingham.

Five days later, he took a knife, roamed the streets of a multiethnic Birmingham neighborhood and stabbed a bearded man three times in the back, killing him. He did not know the man, Mohammed Saleem, an 82-year-old grandfather of 22 who was walking home from evening prayers at a local mosque.

Mr. Lapshyn, who pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in the case this week and is expected to be sentenced on Friday, has shown no remorse.

"I have a racial hatred, so I have a motivation," he told police officers who interviewed him before trial. "I would like to increase racial conflict, because they are not white and I am white."

The case has intensified the debate in Britain about the roots of racial and religious hatred and far-right violence. A young, white man, well educated and seemingly well integrated into society, acting on his own, Mr. Lapshyn fits a profile that has British counterterrorism investigators increasingly worried.

"They are lone actors but often more proficient than actors who we may see at the other end of the terrorist spectrum," Charles Farr, the director general of the Office for Security and Counterterrorism, was quoted as saying in The Times of London.

Lone wolves driven by an indiscriminate hatred of immigrants, and in particular of Muslims, can manage to stay under the radar more easily than members of militant cells can, investigators say.

The tracking of far-right extremists intensified in Britain in 2010 after the police arrested one man who had more than 30 guns and about 50 explosive devices in his house, and another who ran a white- supremacist Web site and made the poison ricin. …

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