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London Bridge Attackers: What We Know So Far About The 'Ringleader'

'He had a reputation for being a bit shady and taking drugs.'

05/06/2017 8:09 PM AEST | Updated 06/06/2017 4:08 AM AEST

UPDATE: Two London Bridge Terror Attackers Named

One of the London Bridge terror attackers featured in a controversial Channel 4 documentary last year, it has been revealed.

In footage that could raise difficult questions for the security services, the 27-year-old - named today by police at Khuram Butt - is shown in a programme called The Jihadis Next Door, where he is seen with an Islamic State flag in Regent’s park trying to radicalise children.

The Channel 4 programme shows Butt, initially named as Abz, at an event with Mohammed Shamsuddin - thought to be the ‘new Jihadi John’ - who speaks of the “real possibility” that the Islamic State flag will one day fly over Downing Street.

The footage was shot by the broadcaster in January 2014, nine months before Dhar was arrested by counter-terrorism police. He later skipped bail and was thought to have travelled abroad to Syria with his wife and four children.

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Butt was named by police Monday evening along with Rachid Redouane, 30, both from Barking, east London.

Redouane had claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan, but police have said inquiries are ongoing to confirm the identity of the third attacker, who hasn’t been named.

Butt was known to the police and MI5. However, there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly. Redouane was not known.

Police given warnings about terrorists involved in UK attacks 

The Sun today quotes a friend of Butt as saying he called police about the attacker’s extremist views, which were said to have been ignited by YouTube videos. 

The source, who has not been named, said he contacted police in Barking, east London, after the Watford-born married father-of-two discussed Islamic State-inspired terror attacks.

Met Police
<strong>Attackers: Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane</strong>

However, the allegation echoes those made in the wake of two most recent terror attacks - the bombing of the Manchester Arena on May 22 - that resulted in 22 deaths - and the Westminster Bridge attack on March 22 that saw Khalid Masood ploughing into pedestrians, killing four, before stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death. Police knew about arena bomber Salman Abedi “up to a point” and Masood was also on their radar.

Whether authorities missed opportunities to prevent the Manchester bombing is now subject to two inquires by MI5, although police have since said that 22-year-old Abedi was not known to the Prevent anti-radicalisation programme.

 

Handout . / Reuters
<strong>A man, thought to be Butt, is seen on the ground after armed police officers opened fire on suspected attackers in Borough Market</strong>

The Channel 4 documentary also focuses on an extremist preacher called Abu Haleema and his friend Mohammed Shamsuddin. Haleema has links to a teen jihadi who wanted to carry out a beheading on Anzac Day in Australia, while Shamsuddin was an associate of Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary and joined a radical group after meeting hate preacher Omar Bakri.

The extremists are seen staging aggressive street protests - where they were often challenged by other Muslims - appearing in court, praying in front of an IS flag and arguing with police.

During the documentary, filmmaker Jamie Roberts shows the extremists an execution video to gauge their reaction. They are seen laughing and making jokes at first, but later add it is “horrific ... it’s a horrible way to die.”

The film, made by production company Mentorn over two years, explores the status that joining the radical extremist group gives some young men.

Police are yet to name the three men involved in the terror attack which began with a van ploughing into pedestrians shortly after 10pm before three men armed with knives rampaged through bars and restaurants at nearby Borough Market, indiscriminately stabbing bystanders.

Scotland Yard said the attackers names will be released as “soon as it is operationally possible”.

Channel 4
<strong>Siddhartha Dhar is seen holding an Islamic State flag during the Channel 4 documentary Jihadis Next Door</strong>

 

Attacker seen in Arsenal shirt was a former Transport for London worker 

Meanwhile, the family of Pakistan-born Butt have reportedly asked to be left alone to “grieve in peace”.

The Sun quoted the killer’s brother-in-law as saying his family did not know what was going on and requesting space to mourn. 

The newspaper said Butt was the terrorist pictured lying dead in an Arsenal shirt outside the Wheatsheaf pub, after being killed by police. He was said to have grown up in Pakistan but was brought up in the UK. 

It further claimed that Butt was a former Transport for London, Topshop and KFC worker and had appeared in The Jihadis Next Door, where he was seen trying to radicalise children in his local park.

The man had, according to reports, become increasingly radical in recent years and was well-known in his local community.

 

One mother told the newspaper she had confronted Butt for trying to brainwash her children with extremist religious views in a park.

According to The Times, Butt lived in a block of flats with his wife and two young children, which was raided by police early on Sunday.

Ken Chigbo, 26, who lives in the same building, described Butt as “really sociable” and said the killer had invited him to a barbecue just last week.

“I know he was quite a devout Muslim, I heard him talking about the Koran,” Chigbo said, according to a report in the Daily Record

“He would preach to young Muslims at the flat.

“Sometimes up to six people quite regularly.”

Butt ‘had a reputation for being a bit shady and taking drugs’

Butt, according to reports, had quit working at KFC about two years ago.

A friend told The Sun: “Back then he had a reputation for being a bit shady and taking drugs.”

The source added: “But all that changed when he became radicalised.

“He began stopping his neighbours in the street and asking them if they had been saying their prayers and when they had been to the mosque.”

Erica Gasparri was further quoted in the Daily Record as saying she had also raised concerns about Butt. She said he used to sit in a park opposite Northbury Primary School in Barking with two other men and talk to local children.

The mum-of-three said Butt would offer the kids sweets and claim to be “teaching them about religion”.

Channel 4 News
<strong>Authorities were said to have been previously warned about 27-year-old Butt </strong>

 

‘He had no knowledge of religion’

Another local who knew the attacker said he was kicked out of a mosque last year for supporting IS.

MailOnline reported that Butt was thrown out of the Jabir Bin Zayd mosque in Barking after interrupting a sermon to say that voting in the general election was “un-Islamic”. 

The manager of the mosque, who did not want to give his name, told the website that Butt halted the iman who was advising the community to vote. 

“He started saying that voting was un-Islamic and we shouldn’t do it,” the manager said.

“He got very angry. I called him aside and said, please calm down. He refused, so I removed him. Thank God he followed me.

“When we got outside the room, he said you don’t have any authority over me, only God has authority because this is a house of God. I said that might be true, but I am in charge.”

The manger further stated that the man, who had not been seen at the mosque since being banned, did not appear to be well versed in Islam.

“He had no special friends here. He would arrive, pray and then leave. He said hello to people but generally kept himself to himself.

“He seemed an uneducated person. He seemed to have no knowledge of religion.”

Speaking on the Today Programme on Monday, Commissioner Cressida Dick, declined to comment, saying it was a “very fast moving investigation”. She instead detailed the number of arrests, raids and the amount of forensic material police had gathered.

Dick did however, admit: “I know people will be concerned that there have been three horrendous attacks in the last nine weeks. It’s worth pointing out also that we’ve foiled five attacks, and since 2013 we’ve foiled 18 attacks.”

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