Of­fi­cials re­lease lat­est de­tails of at­tack­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY PAIS­LEY DODDS AND RAPHAEL SATTER

LON­DON | A Pak­istan-born failed cus­tomer service clerk with links to one of Europe’s most pro­lific hate preach­ers. A Moroc­can pas­try chef whose part­ner said he once went swim­ming rather than see his daugh­ter. An Ital­ian na­tional who told au­thor­i­ties he “wanted to be a ter­ror­ist.”

New de­tails emerged Tues­day of the sus­pected per­pe­tra­tors of the lat­est ter­ror strike, with at least two of the men be­hind Satur­day’s ram­page on Lon­don Bridge known to Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials. That raised ques­tions about whether more could have been done to stop the at­tack, which be­gan Satur­day when the men drove a rented van into a crowd and then leaped out to stab peo­ple who crossed their paths. Seven were killed and nearly 50 wounded. All three of the at­tack­ers were shot dead by po­lice.

Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris Johnson said it was fair to ask how the at­tack­ers “slipped through our net.”

Se­cu­rity has be­come a key is­sue in the run-up to Thurs­day’s gen­eral elec­tion, with Con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May strug­gling in the polls. Bri­tish se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said none of the men were con­sid­ered vi­o­lent, but they ac­knowl­edged the dif­fi­culty of pre­dict­ing whether ex­trem­ists will turn dan­ger­ous. The as­sault was the third at­tack in three months in which most of the as­sailants had been on au­thor­i­ties’ radar at some point.

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­panded to look at how the men knew one an­other and whether they were part of a larger con­spir­acy, Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties swooped Tues­day into the town of Jhelum, where Khu­rum Butt lived un­til the time he was 7, when he moved to Bri­tain. His cousin, 18-year-old Bi­lal Dar, said that Butt’s un­cle was taken in for ques­tion­ing. It was un­clear if he was de­tained.

“Our fam­ily is hurt by what he did,” Mr. Dar said in the town about two hours east of Pak­istan’s cap­i­tal. “This has de­stroyed our fam­ily’s pride.”

Butt, 27, em­braced rad­i­cal Is­lam dur­ing his time in Lon­don and was once filmed in a doc­u­men­tary called “The Ji­hadis Next Door.” In the film, he was seen with a group un­furl­ing a black-and-white flag associated with the Is­lamic State group. The men were fol­low­ers of An­jem Choudary, a preacher who was jailed for his sup­port of the Is­lamic State and who once praised the Sept. 11 at­tack­ers.

It is thought that Choudary played a key role in Butt’s rad­i­cal­iza­tion, ac­cord­ing to a Bri­tish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to talk about the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Choudary’s now-banned al-Muha­jiroun group was linked to one of Butt’s al­leged con­nec­tions, Sa­jeel Shahid, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who again spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Sha­did al­legedly pro­vided al Qaeda ter­ror train­ing to Mo­hammed Sid­dique Khan, one of the four sui­cide bombers who killed 52 peo­ple dur­ing Lon­don’s morn­ing rush hour in 2005. He was also ac­cused of train­ing other ter­ror sus­pects in Bri­tain.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the sec­ond at­tacker as 30-year-old Rachid Re­douane, also known as Rachid Elkhdar, who claimed to have both Moroc­can and Libyan roots and worked as a pas­try chef in Ireland, where he had lived in the past five years as well the east Lon­don sub­urb of Da­gen­ham. Re­douane was never un­der sur­veil­lance by Ir­ish au­thor­i­ties, and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Frances Fitzger­ald urged cau­tion in spec­u­lat­ing about his move­ments.

The third at­tacker was iden­ti­fied as Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Ital­ian na­tional of Moroc­can de­scent who was re­port­edly work­ing in a Lon­don restau­rant.

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