MUSLIM leaders fear the younger members of their community could retaliate after a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a Swindon mosque.

Swastikas and anti-Islamic abuse were daubed on the walls of the Broad Street mosque in an apparent backlash following the alleged terrorist plot to blow up planes from British airports.

It is the third time the building has been targeted. This latest attack comes days after Swindon's Muslim leaders met police to ask for more protection.

The homemade bomb was thrown through a window in the early hours of yesterday.

It did not ignite and police officers patrolling nearby quickly arrested a man in Fleming Way.

Azim Khan, of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, arrived at the mosque just after 5am for first prayers.

He said community leaders had been bracing themselves for an attack.

He said: "We met the police this week and we are glad they were patrolling the area. They are very vigilant.

"When something national or international happens we get this local reaction and we were expecting it.

"My advice is please stay calm. Whatever happens nationally, we are not part of it. We want to live in Swindon peacefully.

"This is our country too and we have all got to look after it."

Mr Khan was relieved that the damage to the mosque was minimal.

"We are lucky," he said. "It could have been a lot worse and it's a good job we didn't lose the whole building."

Mansoor Khan, 63, general secretary of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, said he was expecting an attack.

"We had a meeting with police and we told them we needed extra vigilance in the area after what happened in London," he said.

"We told them this last Friday and lo and behold it, happens."

Qari Abdul Rashid, 39, a former Imam at the mosque, said: "This is not good for the Muslim youth.

"If the young people come and have a look it will aggravate them and we will have to control them."

Supt Richard Rowland, of Swindon police, appealed for calm.

"Any thoughts among young people that they need to take any form of redress are completely unnecessary and just escalate the matter," he said.

"Inevitably, in view of recent events, this incident will have an impact on some of our communities.

"It is important that everyone in Swindon feels safe and secure.

"We are working closely with our communities.

"We want to give out a strong message that hate crime of any kind is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by Swindon police."

Det Insp Tim Corner said a 22-year-old man from the Moredon area was charged last night in connection with the incident.

He was charged with one count of attempted arson, one of arson, four counts of religiously aggravated criminal damage and one count of possession of an offensive weapon.

He was detained at Gablecross police station overnight and was due to appear before magistrates in Swindon today.

Mosque has been targeted in the past

TEENAGE racist Michael Matthews was jailed for a year in January for starting a fire at the Broad Street mosque.

The 17-year-old daubed racist graffiti on the mosque and the town's Sikh temple.

Police installed a covert camera at the Broad Street mosque in October last year after a series of incidents.

Matthews was filmed spraying graffiti and placing an aerosol on the wooden window ledge, which he poured white spirit over and lit.

Minutes earlier there had been more than 100 people in the prayer hall. About 10 were still inside when the fire started.

Matthews, of Helston Road, Park North, admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, two counts of religiously activated criminal damage and one of racially aggravated criminal damage.

A further eight offences of racially aggravated criminal damage were taken into consideration.

The judge imposed a two-year detention and training order which means fter his year behind bars he will undergo a year of training.