UK knife attack suspect was known to security services: reports

Khairi Saadallah (pictured) is being held on suspicion of murder.
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Updated 22 June 2020

UK knife attack suspect was known to security services: reports

  • Saadallah came to the attention of British intelligence services when he was said to have planned to travel to Syria.
  • The attacker would have been one of thousands on security services' watch list.

READING: A man held on suspicion of stabbing three people to death in a British park at the weekend was known to the security services, media reported on Monday.
The 25-year-old, widely identified as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan refugee, was held on suspicion of murder on Saturday night, soon after the rampage in Reading, west of London.
Thames Valley Police then re-arrested him under the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows for detention without charge for up to 14 days.
Witnesses to the attack in Forbury Gardens described seeing a lone assailant walking through a park filled with people and stabbing them at random.
British media said Saadallah fled the civil war in Libya and had been released from prison earlier this month, after serving time for a series of non-terror offenses.
He briefly came to the attention of the domestic intelligence agency MI5 last year and was said to have planned to travel abroad, reportedly to Syria.
But he was not deemed to be a substantial risk. His mental health is understood to be a factor for investigating officers.
Mark Rowley, a former assistant commissioner for specialist operations in the Metropolitan Police, said Saadallah would have been one of thousands of people on MI5’s watch list.
Some 3,000 people are under investigation at any one time but there are up to 40,000 people who have come up on the radar in relation to extremist ideology, he told BBC radio.
“To spot one of those who is going to go from a casual interest into a determined attacker... is the most wicked problem that the services face,” he added.
The reports about the suspect’s time in prison will again raise questions about the early release of offenders after two previous terror attacks in the past year.
In November, a convicted jihadist on parole was shot dead by police after stabbing five people — two fatally — near London Bridge in the heart of the British capital.

Armed officers also shot dead another assailant who injured three people in a London stabbing attack in February. He had also been released early from a terrorism conviction.
Those attacks prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to tighten the law on early prison releases.
A second, named as Joe Ritchie-Bennett, was said to have moved to Britain from Philadelphia in the United States some 15 years ago.
US Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson offered condolences to everyone affected. “To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen,” he wrote on Twitter.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said that despite the attack, Britain’s terrorist threat level remains unchanged at “substantial,” which means an attack is deemed “likely.”
“People must remain vigilant,” he told the BBC.


Thai protesters challenge king’s military command

Updated 8 min 52 sec ago

Thai protesters challenge king’s military command

  • Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination
  • The Royal Palace has made no comment since the protests began

BANGKOK: Thai anti-government protesters challenged on Sunday King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s personal control over some army units to condemn the military’s role in politics.
It was the latest open defiance of the king by protesters, who have broken taboos by criticizing the monarchy in a country where it is officially revered under the constitution and laws to ban insulting it.
Hundreds of protesters gathered to march to the 11th Infantry Regiment, one of two units that were moved under the king’s command in 2019.
“An army should belong to the people, not the king,” Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak told reporters. “In a democratic system, the king is not responsible for directing command of the military.”
Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination.
Parit is among several protest leaders who already face charges under lese majeste laws against insulting the monarchy after his speeches at previous rallies.
Protests which began in July initially demanded the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, and a new constitution, but now also seek to curb the powers of the king.
At the barracks, an advance guard of protesters set about removing razor wire barricades.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the country adhered to the rule of law, but that the right to freedom of speech must keep within it.
“In every case where the law is violated, officials take action with strict adherence to the appropriate legal processes without discrimination,” the ministry said.
Prayuth has rejected protesters’ demands that he quit along with their accusations that he engineered last year’s election to keep power that he first took from an elected government in 2014.
The Royal Palace has made no comment since the protests began, but the king has said that despite their actions the protesters are loved “all the same.”