The ringleader of the London Bridge terror attack who was photographed on the ground with canisters strapped to his body was today named by police as Khuram Butt.
Butt, 27, of east London, is believed to have led the trio of terrorists who ploughed into pedestrians using a hired van, before stabbing revellers in pubs and bars on Saturday night. Police continue to investigate the atrocity that left seven dead and 48 injured.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said Butt was known to police and MI5 but said there had been no evidence of “attack planning” and he had been deemed as a ‘low priority.’
A second man, 30-year-old Moroccan-Libyan Rachid Redouane, was named by police as one of the other two attackers. He was unknown to police. Redouane, who also used the name Rachid Elkhdar, claimed to be six years younger than his true age and lived in a tower block not far from Butt.
The third man, who has not yet been named, is not a UK citizen.
All three were shot dead by armed police in the Borough Market area of south London, eight minutes after launching the attack.
The ringleader of the London Bridge massacre never bothered to hide his violent, extremist views.
Khuram Butt was so brazen that he openly posed with the black flag of the so-called Islamic State in Regent’s Park in the centre of London for a Channel 4 documentary, entitled The Jihadis Next Door.
Butt and other extremists linked to the banned terror group al-Muhajiroun were even detained by police for an hour over the stunt in 2015 but were released without being arrested.
In the film, screened in January 2016, Butt appears on camera, intervening when police attempt to search one of the group’s leaders. Butt raises his voice, angrily asking them: “Why are you touching him?” In another clip, he requested a compass in order that he could pray towards Mecca.
As a consequence, MI5 and counter-terrorism officers began an investigation into Butt, which remained ongoing even as the 27-year-old launched his terror attack on London Bridge. Butt, who was wearing an Arsenal shirt and a fake bomb strapped to his chest, was shot dead by police on Saturday night.
Butt’s known links to al-Muhajiroun will raise serious concern that he wasn’t stopped prior to the atrocity. The group, which was banned shortly after the 7/7 bombings in 2005, and its successor organisations have been connected to a quarter of all Islamist terror offences and plots.
Butt reportedly arrived in the UK from Pakistan as a child refugee. His father is said to have worked at a fruit and vegetable stall in east London, but died in 2003, when Butt would have been a teenager.
One witness claimed to have seen Butt in the streets around Borough Market a week before Saturday’s attack, while reports on Monday night suggested the three men had done a “dry run” in the minutes before they targetted pedestrians on London Bridge. Their van was caught on CCTV travelling across the bridge nine minutes before the attack, reportedly allowing the terrorists to check the amount of traffic, the number of potential victims and whether there were any police around.
It emerged on Monday that Butt had “verbally assaulted” an anti-terrorism campaigner at a rally in parliament led by the notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary the day after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, which promotes Islamic tolerance, said: “Khuram Butt called me a ‘Murtad’, which means traitor in Arabic, and accused me of being a government stooge when I confronted Anjem Choudary about him supporting terrorism.
“The police turned up and Anjem, Khuram Butt and two other men were escorted away towards Millbank and I stayed in College Green. I am not surprised that Khuram Butt carried out the terrorist attack and there are serious questions for the authorities.”
Butt, who lived in a ground floor flat in east London, had also twice been reported to anti-terror police by friends and neighbours concerned about his extremist views.
A former friend claimed Butt, who is understood to have worked for a fried chicken chain and for London Underground as a trainee customer services assistant for six months until October, had been radicalised after watching videos on YouTube. The friend said he contacted the authorities after becoming concerned over Butt’s obvious extremist views.
A neighbour Erica Gasparri said she had also contacted police after Butt tried to ‘brainwash’ her children in the local park and convert them to Islam.
Butt, who was married with two children, had also been ejected from a nearby mosque after a confrontation with an imam.
Butt was a football supporter, a kickboxer and a regular at a local gym – the Ummah Fitness Centre – which caters predominantly for Muslims.
Channel 4 said yesterday that police had contacted them about the documentary and requested the broadcaster not to comment.
In The Jihadis Next Door, Butt appeared alongside Mohammad Shamsuddin, who appears to have become the de facto leader of the remnants of al-Muhajiroun following the jailing of its founder Omar Bakri Muhammad, who is languishing in a Lebanese prison, and Choudary, who is serving a five-and-half-year sentence for terror offences in the UK.
An authoritative analysis of all Islamist terrorism offences and attacks in the UK between 1998 and 2015 shows 25 per cent have been committed by perpetrators with links to al-Muhajiroun and its various incarnations.
Those plots include the murder of Lee Rigby, committed by Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who had been radicalised by Choudary as early as 2007.
Another senior figure in the group was Siddhartha Dhar, who skipped bail while under investigation over his association with Choudary, and fled to Syria to fight with Islamic State. Dhar replaced Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, as the terror group’s notorious executioner. Dhar also appeared in the Channel 4 film until he fled to Syria.
The documentary concentrated on Shamsuddin and another preacher known as Abu Haleema. Choudary, Dhar, Shamsuddin and Abu Haleema were arrested together in September 2014.
Shamsuddin, 40, admitted in the documentary he had been radicalised by Bakri, a Syrian born extremist who founded al-Muhajiroun, while at university.
In the documentary, Abu Haleema and Shamsuddin are filmed laughing as they watch Islamic State execution videos. Haleema was shown calling for homosexuals to be thrown from tall buildings, alcohol to be outlawed and adulterers to be stoned to death on Haven Green near Ealing, in West London.
The documentary, filmed over two years by director Jamie Roberts, also showed Shamsuddin calling for David Cameron to be arrested under Sharia law.
“The Sharia is coming to the UK – this black flag you see here one day is gonna be on 10 Downing Street,” he said.
He later told the filmmakers: “Our message is deadly, we are calling for world domination, and for Sharia for the UK.”
Shamsuddin said that his views were “moulded” by Bakri – dubbed the Tottenham Ayatollah – who is now in jail in Lebanon for supporting terrorism.
Haleema and Shamsuddin were also arrested in August 2015 during anti-terror raids, but no further action was taken.
A Moroccan chef who took part in the London terrorist attack is believed to have visited his estranged wife hours before the attack so he could say goodbye to their daughter.
Rachid Redouane was seen visiting his wife, Charisse, only three hours before he and two accomplices killed seven by ramming crowds with a van and then launching a knife rampage, neighours said.
One neighbour told the Telegraph he had even stood next to the terrorist in a lift as he went up to his wife’s apartment.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, and who lives in the same apartment block as Redouane’s wife, said: “I was standing right next to him in that lift”.
“I’ve seen him four or five times, he’s come here often to see his daughter. He didn’t say a word, we just stood there silently until we got to his floor.
“It was only the next day when my mate told me about the attacks that I realised it was him. It’s scary you know. I don’t like the fact that my kids were living in the same block as this guy. He was there at 7pm.”
Large numbers of police then arrived at the block of flats on Sunday after the attack.
Another couple living in the same block, just a few hundred yards from where another attacker, Khuram Butt lived, also told the Telegraph that Redouane had visited on Saturday evening.
The couple, who were aged in their 20s and wished to remain anonymous, said that the man had then left the apartment block and had signed out at reception.
The man said: “The whole block is talking about it, about he came to say goodbye to her and his daughter before they left.
“The police came yesterday morning, there were dozens of them. We know he signed out at reception because guests visiting have to.
“He was here just before it all happened.”
Redouane and his wife are reported to have split up over their differing views on religion, after they clashed over the best way to raise their child.
Redouane is listed on his daughter’s birth certificate as Moroccan and gives his profession as pastry chef. However police said he also claimed to be Libyan and has in the past used the name Rachid Elkhdar, claiming to be six years younger.
Redouane was not known to the security services, according to a police statement.
An Irish ID card was found on his body after he was shot dead by armed police in Borough Market, Southwark. The plastic credit card-sized document is believed to have been issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau and is given to people from outside the EU.
The card has a person’s certificate of registration which states they have permission to stay in Ireland. It must be carried at all times.
Redouane married his 38-year-old wife in Ireland in 2012 and they later moved to the UK. His wife never converted to her husband’s faith, and they had recently split up, the Guardian reported. A friend said they had clashed over how to raise their daughter.
On social media Redouane’s wife, whose maiden name was O’Leary, had recently described herself as single and at one point complained that her daughter’s father was not seeing his child.
Redouane had been living in the Rathmines area in the south of Dublin while in Ireland, according to Irish police sources, and had spent time there as recently as three months ago.
Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach, said while on a trade mission to Chicago that the dead terrorist is not believed to have been under surveillance by Irish police.
He said: “There are a small number of people in Ireland who are being monitored and observed in respect of radicalisation and matters relevant to that.
“In this case these facts are being checked, but my understanding is that this individual was not a member of that small group.”
The Irish police are reportedly watching up to 12 foreign nationals, mainly of north African origin, over suspected links to extremist groups.
Garda are understood to be piecing together Redouane’s movements in the country over recent years and whether he was radicalised in the country.
As details of Redouane’s Irish links were disclosed, a Muslim imam and scholar based in the country said Irish authories had repeatedly ignored his warnings about local activists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil) group and al-Qaida activists.
Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri said neither the police nor the justice department contacted him after he warned there was an Islamist extremist presence in Dublin.
The third attacker
The third attacker remains unnamed more than two days after he joined in a murderous rampage with Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism policeman, said that inquiries are “ongoing to confirm the identity” of Butt and Redouane’s accomplice.
However counter-terrorism sources said they were almost certain of his identity and an announcement of his name was being delayed because he was not a British national.
The disclosure that he is not British will raise questions about how recently he moved to the UK and under what circumstances he had entered the country.
Witnesses during to the knife rampage through Borough market said that two of the attackers appeared to be of Mediterranean appearance. That will raise the possibility that the third man was another North African, like Redouane.
Police on Monday continued to raid and search addresses across east London and it was not clear if any of these were linked to the third attacker.