Family of terror victim demand to know why attacker was in UK

Family of terror victim demand to know why attacker was in UK
A handout picture released by Counter Terrorism Policing South East on Jan. 11, 2021 shows the custody photograph of Khairi Saadallah following his arrest on murder charges in Reading, England. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 January 2021

Family of terror victim demand to know why attacker was in UK

Family of terror victim demand to know why attacker was in UK
  • Khairi Saadallah fought for terrorist group in Libya, had string of convictions in Britain
  • James Furlong’s family calls on Home Secretary Priti Patel for explanation

LONDON: The family of a British man murdered by a Libyan terrorist last year has questioned why he was still in the UK eight years after having his claim for asylum turned down. The family is calling on UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for answers.

Khairi Saadallah was jailed for life in London on Monday after he was convicted of the murders of James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett in a terrorist attack in the town of Reading on June 20, 2020.

Following the verdict, Furlong’s family asked why Saadallah was in the UK at all, citing his known history as a potentially dangerous individual whose deportation had been identified by Patel as being in the public interest just days before the attack, but who was still at liberty to roam the streets.

“On the facts of this case, there are now serious questions that need answering, most notably, how the killer was ever in a position to commit these horrific acts,” said Furlong’s father.

Saadallah claimed during the trial that he was suffering from mental illness at the time of the attack, and that his motivations were not terrorist-related. But Judge Justice Sweeney said he had a known record of links to Islamist extremism.

It emerged that Saadallah was a former child soldier, having fought with Libyan group Ansar Al-Sharia, which is banned in the UK as a terrorist organization.

After his arrival in the UK, he had racked up seven convictions, leading to him spending time in prison in 2013 with the radical preacher Omar Brooks.

Saadallah was later granted temporary leave to remain in 2018, and officials claimed any attempt to deport him would be delayed due to political instability in Libya.

But it transpired that UK authorities had been warned about him on at least four occasions by Nick Harborne, CEO of the Reading Refugee Support Group, which had worked with Saadallah since 2016.

Furlong’s father said: “Seeking asylum here in 2012, he (Saadallah) has obtained a litany of criminal convictions, including assaults on the public, police and emergency services, along with carrying a bladed weapon.”

He added: “Whilst in prison it was decided by the secretary of state (Patel) on June, 4 2020, just two weeks prior to the attack, that his deportation was in the public interest, but for legal reasons it couldn’t happen.”

She “needs to tell us why this guy wasn’t put into some sort of detention center before they could deport him. He wasn’t safe to put back on the streets,” he said.