The baffling tale of Ashraf Islam, aka Northern Irish Mark Townley, the Islamic convert who walked into a London police station, announced he wanted to kill Prince Harry and was then arrested made the ehadlines this weekend, but Philip Boucher-Hayes, one of the Irish public broadcaster RTE's top correspondents, has the story behind the story on his wordpress blog today.
Boucher-Hayes writes: "He was born Mark Townley, but has at various points either changed his name by deed poll or re-fashioned himself as Antonio Mandez, or Marx or others that I don’t know about, and Ashraf Islam is merely the latest in a long line of aliases. I have been following his scrapes with the law and the complaints of his victims periodically since 2007. If you are interested in what he has got up to and what kind of a person he is you can listen to a detailed interview he gave me in November 2012 here. You can listen just like any visitor to my timeline can listen. You could listen and put those facts together with the rather underwhelming circumstances of Ashraf Islam’s arrest and arrive at the conclusion that this man is anything other than a Jihadi.
"He is a sociopathic, egomaniacal monster who has left untold financial and emotional damage in his wake. He is a narcissistic rogue who is utterly convinced of his own brilliance and superiority to those around him. He is in short a nasty piece of work but he is no Jihadi. How could he be when he is utterly incapable of surrendering his life to anything other than the pursuit of his own comfort and happiness."
Boucher-Hayes is as mystified as everyone else as to why Townley has perpetrated this latest hoax, but he has some theories.
"If I had to speculate wildly as to why Townley has handed himself in to police it would be either because he has once again fallen on hard times and wants three squares and a bed at the taxpayers expense. Or perhaps he’s trying to put himself beyond the reach of his creditors, not all of whom are always entirely innocent themselves. Linking himself indirectly to the Woolwich attack would simply appeal to Mark’s twisted sense of the theatric."