Thursday 23 November 2017

London Terror: How attacker used Ireland to slip into UK under Garda radar

One of three men behind London knife rampage had Irish ID card and lived in Dublin flat as recently as last year

Australian nanny Sara Zelenak remains missing. Top right Khuram Shazad Butt. Bottom: Rachid Redouane.
Australian nanny Sara Zelenak remains missing. Top right Khuram Shazad Butt. Bottom: Rachid Redouane.
Charisse Ann O'Leary Picture: Facebook

Robin Schiller and Ken Foy

One of the London terror attackers used Ireland as a back-door entrance to the UK and was living here as recently as March of last year, gardaí believe.

Rachid Redouane (30) was a pastry chef who was first recorded being in Dublin in 2012 along with his wife Charisse O'Leary (38), who is originally from the UK.

Security sources have stated the terror attacker lived at an apartment block in Rathmines, south Dublin, with Ms O'Leary.

He had lived with his wife and young child on and off for four years.

Left: Khuram Shazad Butt. Right: Rachid Redouane. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Left: Khuram Shazad Butt. Right: Rachid Redouane. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
charisse.jpg
Charisse Ann O'Leary Picture: Facebook

Redouane and Ms O'Leary married in Ireland in 2012, before moving to the UK. They returned to Ireland in 2016 before leaving again in March of that year, records show. 

Authorities have not yet established how and when he originally entered Ireland before his marriage, and believe that he made several return trips to pass UK immigration checks.  

A source added that their marriage appeared genuine, and not for financial gain or to secure residency in this jurisdiction.

"He was living in the UK long before he first came to Ireland. It is proving very complex to gather all of the information to determine exactly how many times he entered and left Ireland, but gardaí believe that he returned to Ireland on a number of occasions since 2012," a senior source said last night.

Redouane also used the name Rachid Elkhdar, claiming to be six years younger.

Authorities said he was of Moroccan and Libyan descent.

An Irish ID card, possibly issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, was found on one of the men shot dead by police
An Irish ID card, possibly issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, was found on one of the men shot dead by police

His accomplice, Khuram Butt (27), was known to British intelligence services.

The terrorists were officially named by UK authorities last night, while the third perpetrator has yet to be named.

In total, seven people were killed while a further 48 were injured in the attack, for which terror group Isil has claimed responsibility.

Following the atrocity, London Metropolitan Police officers discovered an Irish identity document on Redouane.

This card was issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and is given to non-EU nationals, permitting them to reside in Ireland for a certain period of time.

Concerns have now been raised that Redouane used Ireland's Border with the North to enter the UK before planning and carrying out the terror attack.

Enda Kenny confirmed that Redouane was not under surveillance by Garda security and intelligence services while he was living here. Photo: PA
Enda Kenny confirmed that Redouane was not under surveillance by Garda security and intelligence services while he was living here. Photo: PA

He did not come to the attention of gardaí in relation to criminal or terror-related activities during his time here, and there is no evidence yet to suggest he was radicalised while living in Ireland.

Charisse O'Leary was arrested as part of the investigation into the London Bridge terror attack. She had recently changed her profile picture on her social media account to show support with the victims of the Manchester terror attack on May 22.

A property in Barking, London, was raided by armed police and in total 12 people were detained as part of the large-scale investigation.

Last night police confirmed these people, including Ms O'Leary, were released without charge. Gardaí are continuing to monitor the movements of a number of suspected jihadists residing here in Ireland.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday confirmed that Redouane was not under surveillance by Garda security and intelligence services while he was living here.

Gardaí are now increasing preparations and training to prepare for a potential terrorists attack at transit hubs and large businesses in Ireland.

Computer simulations have been carried out with elite Army officers, which simulate a terror attack taking place at Dublin Airport and a multi-national company.

These exercises simulate attacks being carried out similar to the recent London and Manchester attacks as well as the Paris terror attack in 2015.

They have been taking place in recent months, but will now be increased to include other possible targets and threats. Simulations will include Irish ports, restaurants as well as concerts.

Meanwhile, gardaí were last night continuing to carry out background checks on Redouane to determine who he was in contact with while in Ireland.

Authorities are now in the process of establishing whether Redouane obtained EU treaty rights by applying through registered post to the relevant unit of the residence division of Irish Naturalisation Immigration Services (INIS).

An emergency meeting was also chaired by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan yesterday morning after it emerged that Redouane was in the possession of Irish documentation.

The three-hour meeting at Garda HQ was attended by senior gardaí from the security and intelligence units, Department of Justice officials and Defence Forces personnel. Ireland's terror-threat level remains at moderate, meaning that an attack is possible, but not likely.

The victims

Canadian Chrissy Archibald (30) was walking across London Bridge with her partner Tyler Ferguson when the terrorists' van careered onto the pavement and mowed her down.

Mr Ferguson, who was walking just ahead of Miss Archibald, looked back at her as he heard screeching tyres and saw victims being knocked down, his family revealed. He tried to resuscitate her but she died as he held her.

Mr Ferguson's sister Cassie Ferguson Rowe said he was devastated and unable to eat or sleep. "He is broken into a million pieces," she said. "He held her and watched her die in his arms."

Read more: 'Not on my watch': Martial arts expert stabbed trying to save bouncer

The couple had only recently become engaged after Ms Archibald, a homeless shelter volunteer, moved to the Netherlands, where her fiancé works as an accountant.

Meanwhile, for the families of those still missing, they had waited two agonising days, sick to their stomachs and desperately hoping for news.

But then, yesterday afternoon, came the knock at the door the family had dreaded.

James McMullan (32), the one Briton missing since the London Bridge terror attack, was almost certainly among the dead. His bank card had been found on one of the bodies yet to be formally identified. "He was an inspiration," his sister Melissa McMullan sobbed. "No words can ever match his essence. There will only ever be one James.

For the McMullan family, the devastating news brought an end to a period of limbo in which all they could do was scour hospitals, make agonising public appeals and call his phone until the battery went dead.

Several other families remain stuck in this nightmare, clinging to the faint glimmer of hope that their loved ones might still be found alive in hospital, not daring to imagine the alternative.

Among those who remain missing are Sara Zelenak (21), an Australian nanny who should have been babysitting that evening but went out with friends in a last minute change of plan, two Frenchmen and a Spaniard who used his skateboard to try to save a woman from the attackers.

Mr McMullan, from Hackney, east London, had not been seen since he stepped outside the Barrowboy and Banker on Borough High Street, where he had been drinking with old school friends. Five minutes later, the terrorists ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge, before crashing the vehicle directly outside the bar and indiscriminately stabbing people.

In a tragic twist, Miss McMullan said that it had been her brother's first night out for months, as he celebrated the completion of business project to which he had dedicated every waking hour for two years.

Their father, Simon McMullan, vowed to continue the work on his "exceptional" son's e-learning business.

Read more: 'Heroic' off-duty policeman severely injured after fighting off terrorists with bare hands

Among others forced to endure the hideous wait for news is the traumatised mother of Miss Zelenak, who would speak to her daughter every day.

This week, the calls have been replaced by a deafening silence and she is instead flying from Brisbane to London to await news.

Miss Zelenak's stepfather, Mark Wallace, revealed that she had been due to babysit on the night of the attack, but at the last minute the child's grandmother stepped in to help, meaning she could go out with friends. Mr Wallace, from Brisbane, said: "I feel terrible, I can't think.

Ignacio Echeverria (39) was last seen lying on a pavement after heroically confronting one of the terrorists who was stabbing a woman, friends have revealed. The HSBC analyst, originally from Las Rozas, near Madrid, was cycling home to Poplar, east London, from a skate park on Saturday when he ran to the woman's aid, using his skateboard as a weapon. HSBC is said to have employed private detectives to find him.

Friends of 36-year-old Sebastien Belanger have said they are clinging onto the hope that he is still out there, suffering from amnesia due to a "violent mental shock".

Mr Belanger, a French chef who works at the Coq d'Argent restaurant in the City, had watched the football with friends and was having a last drink in the Boro Bistro when they heard the attackers' van smash into a wall directly above them. His friend Robin, (24) said that in the panic, he lost sight of Sebastien."We have no idea which way he left nor what happened. I tried to call him but have no news."

Another of the group's friends, a waiter from Brittany, is thought to be among the dead.

A third Frenchman, Xavier Thomas, who was out with friends, is also missing.

His girlfriend, Christine Delcros, was reportedly seriously injured in the attack and is recovering in hospital.

Christophe Castaner, a spokesman for the French government, said it was believed he may have jumped into the Thames.

Irish Independent

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