The three victims stabbed to death in a terror attack in a park in Reading on Saturday included a popular teacher and an American citizen, it emerged on Monday, as thousands of people held a minute’s silence in the town near London.
Two of the three deceased have been named: James Furlong, 36, a popular teacher in Wokingham, and US citizen Joe-Ritchie Bennett, 39, an employee of a pharmaceutical company in Reading.
As Furlong’s school and former students paid tributes, his parents Gary and Janet said in statement: “James was a wonderful man. He was beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun. He was the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for. We are thankful for the memories he gave us all. We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever.”
US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said: “I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the attack on June 20. To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We condemn the attack absolutely and have offered our assistance to British law enforcement”.
Khairi Saadallah, 25, of Libyan origin, who was arrested under terrorism laws, was on the radar of British intelligence services in mid-2019, but the case was dropped since no immediate threat was identified.
Saadallah was reportedly granted asylum in the UK and was under investigation as a person who may travel abroad for extremist reasons, but no immediate threat was identified. Some reports said he may have mental health issues.
The UK’s terrorism threat level was lowered in November 2019 from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’, which means an attack is likely. Security minister James Brokenshire said it was unlikely to be changed after the Reading attack.
He said: “What I would say is that the police and security services obviously deal with thousands of leads, that they have difficult challenges that they have in terms of prioritisation of resource, but I can assure that if there are lessons to be learned, there are policies that needs to be changed, if we need to do things differently, absolutely that is what we will do”.
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