Fury over UK intelligence blunder claims
Britain’s newspapers have reacted with rage to news that UK authorities missed warnings that one of the attackers had been investigated for terrorism related charges by Italian police.
A known Muslim extremist, an Irish-based Libyan pastry chef and a Moroccan-born restaurant worker have been identified as the London Bridge terrorists who killed at least eight people in their murderous rampage on Saturday night.
The gang leader was named as Khuram Butt, a British Arsenal football supporter who worked at KFC and Transport for London. He is linked to the banned extremist group, al-Muhajiroun, set up by the jailed hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
Butt was on the watch list of both MI5 and the Metropolitan Police for his extreme views, and was reported to authorities for trying to radicalise children on his council estate in Barking, east London. But he was assessed as not posing an immediate risk.
The second attacker was named as 30-year-old Rachid Redouane, who was married to a Scottish woman but living in Dublin. Redouane also had an alias of Rachid Elkhdar and claimed to be six years younger. He was not known to any authorities.
The third attacker was named as 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba, a Moroccan-Italian who had moved to London in 2016. Last year, Italian authorities put Zaghba on an EU-wide terrorist database after he was stopped at an Italian airport, reportedly on his way to Syria to join Islamic State (IS). This information was also shared with UK officials.
Revelations that 27-year-old Butt, nicknamed “Abz” was able to plan and execute such terror is an embarrassment to British intelligence.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “There was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly. Work is ongoing to understand more about them, their connections and whether they were assisted or supported by anyone else.”
Butt followed the online rantings of the US based Salafist preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril and he appeared in a television documentary last year alongside the IS executioner, “the new Jihadi John” Mohammed Shamsuddin and another radical Abu Rumysah.
In the documentary Butt is with Shamsuddin, a known associate of Choudary, now jailed for supporting IS, who is linked to Michael Adebolajo and the July 7th London bombers. Footage shows Butt unfurling the Islamic State flag in Regents Park, central London, and praying.
How did he slip through the net?
A terrible failure of intelligence?
Some say security services are facing their worst crisis since the 2005 London bombing. The increased frequency of attacks is placing enormous pressure on the police and the UK’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, they say.
Come off it, say others. It is simply not possible to monitor everyone under suspicion — and you would not want to live in a country like that anyway.
- The police are heroes. We should not criticise. Do you agree?
- More surveillance for more safety. Britain should welcome that.
- Research the known details of Khuram Butt’s life online today. Write a timeline of his life.
- Devise your own five-point plan anti-terrorist plan. Present it to the class. Put all the plans to the vote!
Some People Say...
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- About Khuram Butt we know a lot of trivial detail. For example, Abz ,as he was known, appeared on C4’s The Jihadis Next Door unfurling a jihadi flag. He was thrown out of his mosque for ranting that voting in an election was “un-Islamic”. A friend contacted police about him due to concerns and he was quizzed but not arrested and allowed to keep his passport. He attempted to radicalise children in a nearby park. He was reported for a demonstration in Regents Park.
- What do we not know?
- Why exactly the three men carried out the attack. Nor do we know why Butt or Zaghba were not being monitored by British security services.
- A banned extremist Salafi jihadist terrorist organisation that was based in the United Kingdom and which has been linked to international terrorism, homophobia and antisemitism. The group operated in the UK from January 14th 1986 until the British Government announced an intended ban in August 2005.
- Anjem Choudary
- A British Islamist social and political activist convicted of inviting support for a proscribed organisation, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, under the Terrorism Act 2000.
- The 100-year-old Sunni-based Salafi school of thought aspires to emulate the ways of the Prophet Mohammed. Recognisable from their distinctive long white robes, long beards and flowing head scarf, Salafis are socially and religiously conservative.
- Michael Adebolajo
- The killer of Lee Rigby at Woolwich.