The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Fake sui­cide belt was set for siege, say in­ves­ti­ga­tors

- By Nick Craven and Abul Ta­her

THE Lon­don Bridge ter­ror­ists could have been plan­ning to take hostages in a siege, po­lice said yes­ter­day as they re­leased photos of the fake sui­cide belts worn by the trio.

Of­fi­cers be­lieve the ji­hadi gang used the makeshift leather belts, with wa­ter bot­tles cov­ered in sil­ver duct tape, to de­ter marks­men from shoot­ing them, pos­si­bly be­cause they in­tended to sur­round them­selves with hu­man shields.

Com­man­der Dean Hay­don, lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said: ‘I have not seen this tac­tic in the UK be­fore, where ter­ror­ists cre­ate max­i­mum fear by strap­ping fake ex­plo­sives to them­selves.

‘Any­one who saw them on the night would have thought they were gen­uine.

‘It is hard to spec­u­late what the mo­tive was for wear­ing the belts. It could be that they had plans to take the at­tack into a siege sit­u­a­tion or it might be that they saw it as pro­tec­tion from be­ing shot them­selves.’

Cdr Hay­don praised the courage of po­lice and by­standers who tack­led the killers, de­spite the ap­par­ent dan­ger of the ‘ex­plo­sives’.

‘The belt would have been vis­i­ble to them, and if you are fight­ing back or aim­ing a shot at some­one wear­ing the de­vice you would clearly be very aware that you could be caught in an ex­plo­sion.’

Cdr Hay­don spoke af­ter it emerged that the killers’ rin­gleader Khu­ram Butt, 27, had tried to hire a much big­ger 7.5-ton lorry just hours be­fore the at­tack, rather than the Re­nault van the three used. But his bank card was de­clined and he was forced to use the much smaller, lighter B&Q van.

The van was packed with sacks of gravel and chairs, pos­si­bly to in­crease its weight as a ‘bat­ter­ing ram’. Also in the van were 13 Molo­tov cock­tails and two blow torches to ig­nite them – which could also fit the siege the­ory.

All three of the at­tack­ers were armed with pink ce­ramic knives, be­lieved to have been bought from a Lidl store. They all had the same black in­su­lat­ing tape around the han­dle, and were tied to the killers’ wrists with shoelaces.

One of the first of­fi­cers on the scene of the at­tack has de­scribed the ‘pan­de­mo­nium’.

In­spec­tor Jim Cole, 41 based at nearby Peck­ham po­lice sta­tion, said he and his team man­aged to move about 200 peo­ple to the safety of a pub cel­lar near Bor­ough Mar­ket. He said he could hear his col­leagues over the ra­dio ‘in quite a state of dis­tress’ as they des­per­ately called for am­bu­lances.

‘On the ra­dio, I could hear of­fi­cers up at Lon­don Bridge and out­side the Mud­lark [pub] who were do­ing CPR and they were call­ing for am­bu­lances ur­gently,’ he said. ‘I would de­scribe it as pan­de­mo­nium re­ally.’

In­spec­tor Cole re­called try­ing to re­as­sure the peo­ple in the base­ment as the drama un­folded on the streets above.

‘I told them that we had armed of­fi­cers out­side, ev­ery­one was safe and there was a nice big round of ap­plause and cheer­ing – that was re­ally good.’

Of­fi­cers have so far spo­ken to 262 peo­ple from 19 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Of th­ese, 78 are sig­nif­i­cant wit­nesses.

They be­lieve there will be many oth­ers who saw the in­ci­dents but have yet to con­tact po­lice, and are ask­ing them to come for­ward.

‘Pro­tec­tion from be­ing shot them­selves’

 ??  ?? A po­lice photo of one of the fake sui­cide belts, that were ac­tu­ally wa­ter bot­tles cov­ered in duct tape. Cir­cled above, ter­ror­ist Khu­ram Butt still wear­ing his de­vice af­ter be­ing shot. THE DRINK BOT­TLES DIS­GUISED AS EX­PLO­SIVES
A po­lice photo of one of the fake sui­cide belts, that were ac­tu­ally wa­ter bot­tles cov­ered in duct tape. Cir­cled above, ter­ror­ist Khu­ram Butt still wear­ing his de­vice af­ter be­ing shot. THE DRINK BOT­TLES DIS­GUISED AS EX­PLO­SIVES

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