The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Park knife attack was terrorism
‘Kind’ teacher one of three killed
The terror suspect accused of killing three people in a Reading park briefly came to the attention of MI5 last year, security sources have said.
Khairi Saadallah, a 25-year-old refugee who fled the civil war in Libya, was detained at the scene on suspicion of murder but was re-arrested yesterday under the terrorism act.
Three other people were injured during the attack at 7pm on Saturday in Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack and said “we will not hesitate to take action” if there are lessons to be learned from the circumstances.
PA understands that Saadallah briefly came to the attention of the security services in 2019, but the information provided did not meet the threshold for investigation.
As counter-terror officers investigate, mental health was understood to be considered a major factor.
The suspect was jailed in October for a complex series of non-terror offences before his sentence was reduced to one of 17 months and 20 days’ imprisonment in the Court of Appeal.
One of the appeal judges who gave the judgment in March, Mr Justice Goss, noted Saadallah’s various mental health issues in reducing the sentence in March.
Meanwhile, one of the victims of Saturday’s attack was named by The Holt School in Wokingham as James Furlong, its head of history and government and politics.
A letter from the school, which has been shared online, describes Mr Furlong as a “kind and gentle man” who had a “real sense of duty and cared for each and every one of our students”.
Deliveroo driver Amir Hadyoon, 31, saw the suspect, who was covered in blood, arrested outside the job centre on Friar Street in Reading, a short distance from Forbury Gardens.
Mr Hadyoon told reporters:“He wasn’t even blinking, he looked really weird.”
Investigators have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.
Chief Constable John Campbell, of Thames Valley Police, said: “Incidents of this nature are very rare, though I know that will be of little comfort to those involved and understand the concern this incident will have caused amongst our local community.”
He asked the public to avoid the area and also to “avoid speculation” about the attack as he appealed for any video footage to be shared with police only.
The prime minister has held a meeting with security officials, police and senior ministers over the incident.
One of the patients admitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital has been discharged, while another remains in a stable condition under observation, a spokeswoman said.
All roads surrounding Forbury Gardens remained cordoned off.
Blue and white tents have been erected next to the walls of the park, with officers patrolling a cordon.
The head of counter terrorism policing,
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said the motivation for the killings are “far from certain”.
He emphasised that the attack was not associated “in any way” with the Black Lives Matter protests.
Mr Basu said there was no evidence to suggest anyone attending crowded places is at risk, but asked people to “be alert, not alarmed, when in public”.
Floral tributes have now beenleftatthescene.