Thursday 17 August 2017

Football-loving 'jihadi next door' skipped neighbour's BBQ to sow murderous terror on streets of London

Metropolitan Police undated handout photo of Khuram Shazad Butt. Photo: Metropolitan Police /PA
Metropolitan Police undated handout photo of Khuram Shazad Butt. Photo: Metropolitan Police /PA

Robert Mendick and Sarah Knapton

The ringleader of the London Bridge massacre had never bothered to hide his violent, extremist views. Khuram Butt was so brazen that he openly posed with the black flag of Isil in Regent's Park, London, for the Channel 4 documentary '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 arrest.

In the documentary, screened in January last year, 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 requests a compass in order that he could pray towards Mecca.

As a consequence of the filming, MI5 and counter-terrorism officers began an investigation into Butt, which was ongoing even as the 27-year-old launched his terror attack on London Bridge. Butt, who was wearing an Arsenal shirt and had a fake bomb strapped to his chest, was shot dead by police on Saturday night.

His known links to al-Muhajiroun will raise serious concern that he was not 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.

Armed Police officers on London Bridge on Saturday night after the terrorist incident. Photo: PA
Armed Police officers on London Bridge on Saturday night after the terrorist incident. Photo: PA

It emerged last night 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, the 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 Barking, east London, had also twice been reported to anti-terror police by friends and neighbours concerned about his extremist views.

A former friend claimed that Butt, who worked for a fried chicken chain and for six months until October for London Underground as a trainee customer services assistant, had been radicalised after watching videos on YouTube. The friend said he contacted the authorities after becoming concerned over Butt's extremist views.

A neighbour, Erica Gasparri, said she had also contacted police in Barking 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 kick-boxer and a regular at a gym at the Ummah Fitness Centre, which caters predominantly for Muslims.

A week before the London Bridge attack Butt went to a barbecue with neighbours to watch the FA Cup final. "I saw him and I spoke to him there," said Michael Mimbo (25), who lives along the street.

Mr Mimbo said another neighbour had invited Butt to a barbecue for last Saturday night's Champions League final, but he declined.

"We thought it was because of Ramadan," Mr Mimbo said. The reason would become clear only half an hour after the final whistle as Butt and two co-conspirators went on their killing spree.

In 'The Jihadis Next Door', Butt appears alongside Mohammad Shamsuddin, who appeared to have become the de facto leader of the remnants of al-Muhajiroun after the jailing of its founder Omar Bakri Muhammad, who is being held in a Lebanese prison, and Choudary who is serving a five-and-half-year sentence for terror offences in the UK.

Channel 4 said yesterday that police had contacted them about the documentary and requested that the broadcaster did not comment.

An authoritative analysis of all Islamist terrorism offences and attacks in the UK between 1998 and 2015 shows 25pc have been committed by perpetrators with links to al-Muhajiroun and its various incarnations.

Those plots include the murder of Lee Rigby committed by two 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 Isil.

Dhar replaced Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, as the terror group's notorious executioner.

Dhar also appeared in the Channel 4 film before he fled to Syria.

Radicalised

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 that he had been radicalised by Bakri, a Syrian-born extremist, while at university.

In the documentary, Abu Haleema and Shamsuddin are filmed laughing as they watch Isil 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, or Islamic 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.

Haleema and Shamsuddin were also arrested in August 2015 during anti-terror raids, but no further action was taken.

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in World News