Stabbing of Stephen Timms

Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, was stabbed on 14 May 2010 during his constituency surgery by Roshonara Choudhry, a 21-year-old British former student and an Islamic extremist, in an attempt to kill him. She was found guilty of attempted murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years. Choudhry was the first Al-Qaeda sympathiser to attempt an assassination in Britain.[1]

Stabbing of Stephen Timms
Stephen Timms portrait.jpg
Stephen Timms
Date14 May 2010 (2010-05-14)
Time(British Summer Time)
LocationBeckton Globe Library, Beckton, East London, England
MotiveIslamic extremism
Non-fatal injuriesStephen Timms
ConvictedRoshonara Choudhry

Choudhry stated that she had been influenced by online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[2] Following her trial, such material was removed from YouTube.[3]


Choudhry was born in Newham, East London, and lived in East Ham. She was the eldest child and attended Plashet School in East Ham, later studying for her A-levels at Newham Sixth Form College. She had been in the final year of a degree in English and communications at King's College, London,[2][4][5] but had dropped out shortly before the attempt on Timms' life.[4] In a police interview, she stated that she had left because she found the university to be anti-Islamic, since they had given an award to the Israeli politician Shimon Peres, in addition to running counter-radicalisation programmes.[6]

Choudhry was inspired to attack Timms by the online lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki.[7]


On 14 May 2010, Timms was approached by Choudhry, during his constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe Library in Kingsford Way, Beckton, East London.[8][9] She acted as though she were going to shake his hand, and then stabbed him twice in his abdomen with a 6-inch kitchen knife, before she was disarmed.[10]

She made "very full admissions" to the police, saying that she had been influenced by dozens of hours of sermons that she had watched of Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. She said her attack was to punish Timms for voting for the Iraq War, and as revenge for the Iraqi people.[11][12]

Timms suffered "potentially life-threatening" wounds: lacerations to the left lobe of his liver, and a perforation to his stomach. A senior police officer said he "was extremely fortunate not to have been killed".[13] He underwent emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital, from which he was discharged on 19 May.[14]


Choudhry chose not to attend her trial for attempted murder at the Old Bailey, saying she did not recognise the court's jurisdiction.[15] The prosecutor ruled out any suggestion that she suffered from a mental illness.[16] On 2 November, Choudhry was found guilty of Timms' attempted murder. She was subsequently given a life sentence, with a recommendation that she serve a minimum jail term of 15 years.[13] After the sentence was announced in court, a group of men in the public gallery began shouting "Allahu akbar" and "British go to hell." A small demonstration took place outside the court.[17]


After the court case, Timms said he was not bitter, but that forgiveness was not possible until his attacker showed remorse. He was seeking the banning of incendiary material on popular internet sites "to protect other vulnerable young people from going down the same road."[18]

The Revolution Muslim website described Choudhry as a heroine for stabbing Timms, posted a prayer to destroy the "enemies of Islam", naming Timms, and responded to her conviction for attacking Timms by publishing a list of MPs who had voted in favour of the Iraq War, as Timms had, giving advice on how to find details of their constituency surgeries.[19][20]

Choudhry is incarcerated at HM Prison Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey.[21] As a Category A prisoner, Choudhry must be strip-searched before and after being visited. For religious reasons, she opposes this, and instead chooses to remain in solitary confinement.[4]


  1. ^ Gardham, Duncan; Rayner, Gordon; Bingham, John (2 November 2010). "White House 'must shut down hate videos on YouTube'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  2. ^ a b Rayner, Gordon; Bingham, John (2 November 2010). "Stephen Timms stabbing: how internet sermons turned quiet student into fanatic". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  3. ^ O'Dell, Jolie (4 November 2010). "After UK Stabbing, YouTube Removes Extremist Videos From Site". Mashable.
  4. ^ a b c Dodd, Vikram (2 November 2010). "Profile: Roshonara Choudhry". The Guardian. London.
  5. ^ "Woman jailed for life for attack on MP Stephen Timms". BBC News. 3 November 2010.
  6. ^ Hasan, Mehdi (4 November 2010). "Some observations on the stabber of Stephen Timms". New Statesman. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  7. ^ Hegghammer, T.; Nesser, P. (2015). "Assessing the Islamic State's Commitment to Attacking the West". Perspectives on Terrorism. Terrorism Research Initiative & Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. 9 (4). ISSN 2334-3745. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Woman charged with attempted murder of Labour MP". The Times. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Former minister Timms stabbed". BBC News. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  10. ^ Hughes, Mark (15 May 2010). "Woman, 21, arrested over stabbing of Labour MP". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  11. ^ Burns, John F.; Helft, Miguel (4 November 2010). "YouTube Withdraws Cleric's Videos". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Al-Qaeda leader's tour of Britain 'radicalised a generation of young Muslims'". Oneindia News. 6 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Woman jailed for life for attack on MP Stephen Timms". BBC News. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  14. ^ "MP Stephen Timms discharged from London hospital". BBC News. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Woman appears in court over stabbing of Labour MP". The Daily Telegraph. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Woman stabbed MP 'in revenge for Iraq war vote". The Daily Telegraph. 1 November 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  17. ^ Dodd, Vikram; Topping, Alexandra (3 November 2010). "Roshonara Choudhry jailed for life over MP attack". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Stephen Timms: 'I don't feel bitter but I'm not ready to forgive my knife attacker'". London Evening Standard. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  19. ^ Gardham, Duncan (10 November 2010). "Arrest over website that encouraged Muslim to attack MPs". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  20. ^ Gardham, Duncan (4 November 2010). "Website used by woman who stabbed MP encourages further attacks". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  21. ^ "Muslim student gets 15 years in jail for trying to murder MP Stephen". Evening Standard. 3 November 2010.