Parsons Green Tube bomb suspect 'a very good guy' and 'described Isis terrorists as stupid', friends say

Hatty Collier
Police officers stand outside a Newport house being searched after three men were arrested in connection with an explosion on the London Underground: REUTERS

A painter and decorator arrested over the Parsons Green Tube bombing is “a very good guy” and described Isis terrorists as “stupid”, friends said.

The 25-year-old, known locally as Bilal, was arrested in Glebe Street, Newport, south Wales, at 7pm on Tuesday.

Police continued to search the house where he lived in Jeffrey Street, with the road cordoned off on Thursday.

The painter and decorator, who was the third man to be arrested in connection with the attack, used a Facebook account with the profile name Mahdi Rahimi, locals and friends confirmed.

A police officer carries bolt cutters outside a Newport house being searched after three men were arrested in connection with an explosion on the London Underground (REUTERS)

One said the suspect, an Iranian Kurd, arrived in Newport in about 2009 and that they were introduced through a mutual friend.

He said: "He is a very good guy, I can't believe this. He is Kurdish, he describes terrorists like Isis as stupid.

"He is hard-working and helpful. He has painted a lot of the shops and houses round here.

"He used to walk past every day on his way to the mosque, he would come and shake my hand and say hello."

The man said Bilal wanted to study at university but had not been able to as he was waiting for permanent residency in the UK.

He instead enrolled at a local college, where he is believed to still be a student.

Sully Ali, 19, a part-time model, who had seen Bilal being arrested, said: "He smiled at me from the back of the police car.”

"I know him because he painted my auntie's house and I see him in the street."

Bilal would pray at a number of mosques in Newport, including the Iqra community centre, five times a day.

One resident said: "Everyone knew him around here. He is Kurdish - he wouldn't have anything to do with Isis.

Emergency workers help people to disembark a train near the Parsons Green Tube bombing (Pool via AP)

"Kurdish people know what Isis are doing, they are fighting them."

A woman whose son saw Bilal being arrested, said: "He did some painting on our house about two years ago. He was a nice guy, he was very softly spoken.

"He used to condemn terrorism in front of my husband, my husband would condemn terrorism and he would agree with him.

A forensic worker at the scene of the Parsons Green Tube bombing (PA)

"I know he is a Muslim but I don't know what mosque he went to.

"Muslims in this area are totally shocked, we condemn terrorism totally and we totally condemn what happened in London."

Another man said: "Bilal was a customer of mine when I had a shop near here, I prayed with him at the mosque.

"I spoke to a friend who said Bilal had been arrested. I said, 'It can't be'. I don't believe he is part of it."

A 17-year-old boy was arrested early on Thursday in Thornton Heath, south London, bringing the total number of people held for the Tube bombing last Friday to six.

At least 30 people were injured when a homemade bomb contained in a bucket and a Lidl bag partially exploded on a packed rush hour train at Parsons Green.

Counter terror detectives have so far arrested three men, including Bilal aged 25, and two aged 30 and 48, in Newport, south Wales, a 21-year-old named as Yahyah Farroukh in Hounslow and an 18-year-old man who was held at the Port of Dover.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Mr Farroukh and the 48-year-old from Newport had been released with no further action.

Released without charge: Yahyah Faroukh

Detectives have been given until Saturday to continue questioning the 18-year-old suspect, and until early next week to quiz the remaining suspects.

All five remain in custody at a south London police station, Scotland Yard said.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met Counter Terrorism Command, said searches were continuing at five addresses and would continue for some days.

He urged the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police on 0800 789 321, or, in an emergency, by dialling 999.

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