Coming soon to a town near you?
The "Muslim Boys"
On Wednesday January 4, 2006 a black mother gave evidence at an inquest. At Southwark Coroners Court in southeast London, Ruth Marriott spoke of the last days of her son Adrian Marriott. He had been an accountancy student, but was also a gang member, belonging to the Peel Den Crew. He was shot five times in the head on June 8, 2004, a few weeks before his 21st birthday. His body was found in parkland off Barrington Road in Brixton.
52-year-old Ruth Marriott told the inquest: "We heard the shooting. We heard gun fire. The thought did strike me that Adrian could be involved, but it was a fleeting thought. Then we heard from police the following evening what had happened. Adrian was told on the Sunday prior to his death that he would be killed if he did not become a Muslim by the Wednesday, which was the day he died."
John Sampson, the coroner, asked if her son had taken the threat seriously. She answered: "I do not think he did." Sampson later declared that Adrian Marriot had been unlawfully killed.
Ruth Marriott last saw her son on the day before he died. She said: "He was happy. He was pestering me to order something for him out of my catalogue. He liked music and football, but Adrian was very much a family man. He also loved his dog. They would go out together regularly to the park that he died in."
The gang that ordered Adrian Marriott to convert to Islam is called The Muslim Boys. Until the killing, its ascendancy passed mainly unnoticed by the media. The Muslim Boys were viewed as just another of the many gangs that operated in south London, with names such as the Stockwell Crew, the Peel Den Crew, Mad Crew or Mad4T, the SMS (South Man Syndicate, also known as South Man Dem) and PDC (Poverty Driven Children). The police took the threat of the Muslim Boys more seriously. When Adrian Marriott's funeral took place in Brixton, the ceremony was guarded by armed police.
The Muslim Boys drew their recruits, mainly young black youths, from Brixton, Peckham, Lambeth, and Streatham. They targeted run-down housing projects such as the Angel Town Estate in Brixton where Adrian Marriott lived with his mother, his brother David, sister Tara and other siblings. The gang's core membership originally came from another housing project in Brixton called the Myatt's Field Estate. The Muslim Boys made most of their income by committing robberies, stealing from drug dealers and laundering money. They gained a fearsome reputation amongst their peers through their forced conversions to Islam.
Before Adrian Marriott was given the order to convert to Islam or die, his sister Tara had already become a target of the Muslim Boys. Tara Marriott and her friend Jade Okai gave in to the gang's demands and converted. They were given hijabs, Muslim headscarfs, which they were ordered to wear. They were also given Muslim books, DVDs and copies of the Koran, by two men who would later be charged with Adrian's murder.
In September 2005 three young men, Marcus Archer, Aaron Irving-Simpson and Marlon Stubbs, all aged 24, stood trial for the murder of Adrian Marriott. A jury at the Old Bailey heard that a few days before his murder, Adrian told his brother that Marlon Stubbs and two other individuals had threatened him at gunpoint and demanded £500 ($979). Shortly after this, Marriott and an associate "accosted" Archer at Loughborough Junction train station. Stubbs then telephoned Marriot's sister Tara and said: "Your brother is a little tadpole. He just messed with a shark, a whale." Stubbs already had a conviction for raping two schoolgirls.
The trial soon collapsed, and two of the accused were set free. Marcus Archer was jailed for eight years for illegal possession of a firearm. When Archer was arrested for Marriott's murder outside a Croydon mosque in July 2004, a loaded gun was found in his pocket. No one from the gang has been convicted of Adrian Marriott's killing. Though he belonged to a gang, Marriott's mother Ruth said of him: "Adrian was my protector. He always looked after me."
A month after Adrian Marriott was killed, apparently with five machine gun bullets fired at close range into his skull, one of his friends had tried to exact "street justice" upon Aaron Irving-Simpson of the Muslim Boys gang. Nyrome Hinds attacked Irving-Simpson at a bus stop in Norwood. During the subsequent fight, Hinds pulled out a machine gun and a standard pistol. He was later sentenced to 14 years' jail. The £13,505 cash ($26,432) he had with him at the time of his arrest was forfeited by Inner London Crown court on December 21, 2005.
In 2005, about 20 "hardcore" members of the Muslim Boys gang were in jail, but prison was just another place to continue intimidation and recruitment. In February of that year, a journalist from the Evening Standard newspaper interviewed one of the Muslim Boys. 21-year-old Winston was "converted" in prison. He said: "Now we all go to mosque together. If I refuse, they blow [shoot] me, innit. I pray twice a day: before I do crime, and after. I ask Allah for a blessing when I'm out on the street. Afterwards, I apologize to Allah for what I done."
Winston, who claimed to support Osama bin Laden, described his love of knives and spoke casually of the arsenal of guns possessed by gang members. These included Mac-10 machine pistols. He boasted of the money that the gang made from robberies, and said: "Then, after midnight me and my bruvs go to mosque to pray."