A man who placed a bottle of flammable liquid in the exhaust pipe of an Iranian diplomatic vehicle has been sentenced, as the Met’s counter terrorism Commander urges the public to stay alert to suspicious activity and report it to police.
The bottle – which was later found by detectives to have been placed there by Sam Parsa, 60 (11.11.60), of High Road, Tottenham N15 – contained a rag soaked in a mix of petrol and diesel. It was spotted and removed thanks to the alertness of a member of the public who saw it in the exhaust pipe and told officers nearby straight away.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Parsa’s reckless actions could have endangered lives. Following a thorough investigation by detectives, officers swiftly identified Parsa and obtained the vital evidence which proved he was at the scene.
“I would like to praise the member of public who spotted the bottle and did the right thing by reporting it to police quickly, averting a potentially dangerous situation.
“More people are now going out in public and gathering for events and social visits with the COVID-19 restrictions easing, and this is excellent news for everyone. However, there are people who may see this as an opportunity to commit crime against others.
“While people have no reason to be alarmed, it remains important that people remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police. Police rely on information from communities to detect and deal with crime and as this case demonstrates, your call could prevent someone from coming to harm.”
On 6 September 2018, a member of the public noticed a plastic bottle protruding from the exhaust pipe of an unattended Iranian diplomatic vehicle parked near the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge and instantly informed police. Territorial Support Group officers attended and retrieved the bottle. They found it to contain a rag soaked in a mix of petrol and diesel.
Officers from the Counter Terrorism Command led the investigation and through DNA, mobile phone data and CCTV analysis, identified Parsa as the culprit and showed that he was in the area of the embassy on the date and time of the offence. Tests found that the bottle could have ignited in certain conditions.
Following further enquiries, Counter Terrorism officers arrested Parsa on 28 November 2018, and he was subsequently released under investigation.
On 7 April 2020, Parsa was charged by postal requisition with attempted arson with intent to endanger life contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981. Parsa was found guilty of this offence on 16 December 2020 and was sentenced at the Old Bailey on 20 May to a Hospital Order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
You can report any suspicious behaviour or activity that you think could be terrorist-related via the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) website at www.gov.uk/ACT or alternatively, call police in confidence on 0800 789 321.