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One of London Bridge Attackers Was Known to Police


This undated handout photo provided by the London Metropolitan Police shows Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane.

British police have named two of the three men who carried out Saturday's terror attack in London.

Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, was married with two children and lived in east London for a number of years, they said. Butt was a British citizen who was born in Pakistan, moving with his parents to Britain as a toddler. Police admitted he was known to counterterror officers and the intelligence services, but officials insist there was no sign he was planning an attack.

The other named attacker was Rachid Redouane, 30. He claimed he was a Moroccan-Libyan and lived for several years in Ireland.

Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said an investigation into Butt began two years ago, but "there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritized accordingly."

FILE - Forensics investigators work as a white van is carried away from London Bridge, after attackers rammed a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed others nearby killing and injuring people, in London, Britain, June 4, 2017.
FILE - Forensics investigators work as a white van is carried away from London Bridge, after attackers rammed a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed others nearby killing and injuring people, in London, Britain, June 4, 2017.

The two men's names were released as Britain's security services are facing awkward questions about their surveillance policies.

Butt was a recognized Islamic State follower in the streets around his home in the Barking district, where he tried to recruit children and proselytized openly in a nearby park, sparking a complaint to police by a local resident.

Butt also appeared in a television documentary last year in which he was pictured unfurling an Islamic State banner and later arguing with police during a London protest organized by radical preacher Anjem Choudary, a convicted IS recruiter.

Insufficient response

Last month, community and mosque leaders in Manchester and neighbors of Salman Abedi, the British-Libyan who carried out the May 22 concert bombing in the city, accused the security services of missing several opportunities to identify him as a high-risk militant. At least five times, locals warned the police of their fears about the 22-year-old suicide bomber. One community worker said he contacted authorities after Abedi said being a suicide bomber was OK.

Forensic police investigate an area in the London Bridge area of London, June 5, 2017.
Forensic police investigate an area in the London Bridge area of London, June 5, 2017.

Neither Britain's domestic intelligence service MI5 nor the Manchester police responded to the claims, but lawmakers have demanded to know why Abedi was seen just as a peripheral figure and one not requiring surveillance and investigation.

Similar questions are being raised again in the wake of the van-and-knife attack in the London Bridge district of Britain's capital.

Butt's parents are reported to have been asylum seekers from Pakistan. According to local media, the man, nicknamed Abz, worked at various times for a fast-food outlet, a clothing store and the London Underground system.

A onetime friend of the alleged ringleader also told the BBC that he had warned police, alerting them to comments made about previous terrorist attacks in Britain and of his alarm at the man's increasingly extremist beliefs. The former friend said Butt was a keen follower of American radical preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril and would watch YouTube videos of the cleric.

"He used to listen to a lot of Musa Jibril," the ex-friend told the BBC. "I phoned the anti-terror hotline. I spoke to the gentleman. I told him about our conversation and why I think he was radicalized ... I did my bit, I know a lot of other people did their bit, but the authorities did not do their bit."

Security strategy review

A senior Conservative official told VOA that there is deep frustration in Downing Street about Saturday's attack and the fact that at least one of the assailants was known to the authorities. Prime Minister Theresa May promised to review Britain's counterterrorism strategy, holding out the prospects of enhanced powers for the security services and longer jail sentences for extremists. She said she wants to take a tougher line with internet providers and social media businesses that allow extremist material on their sites.

Commuters walk past a police officer on London Bridge in London, June 5, 2017.
Commuters walk past a police officer on London Bridge in London, June 5, 2017.

Among the measures being recommended by security chiefs, according to government officials, is the power to require those on terror watch lists to wear electronic tags, a ban on the sale of unregistered SIM cards, and a ban on immediate vehicle rentals, requiring renters to wait two hours and for rental firms to run checks on them with the police.

Police and counterterror officers launched further raids early Monday in east London. A police spokesman said "a number" of people had been detained. Local residents reported hearing bangs and gunshots during the raids. On Sunday, police arrested 12 people — seven women and five men — in connection with Saturday's terror attack. One of the men has since been released from custody.

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