Security guard tells of scene as Reading triple-murder suspect Khairi Saadallah was arrested | #teacher | #children | #kids

A security guard has revealed how he saw the suspect of a triple murder terror attack in Reading on Saturday get rugby tackled by a police officer, adding that his hands were so covered in blood it looked like he had put them in ‘a bucket of red paint’. 

Three people were killed and another three were injured in a frenzied knife attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading on Saturday evening, with suspect Khairi Saadallah, 25 and previously known to MI5, arrested for the rampage. 

He was detained under the Terrorism Act, though police are thought to be looking at mental health reasons for the attack.

Saadallah’s brother Mo slammed the terror arrest and wrote on Facebook: ‘This is not true. Khairi defended himself…racist countries. Freedom for my brother!’

It came as personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, described seeing three drinkers being ‘severely’ stabbed in the neck and under the arms before the attacker turned, stared at him, and then began running towards his group carrying a ‘five-inch knife’. 

Meanwhile, security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, revealed how he saw the suspect being detained by police. 

He said: ‘I had just finished work at about 7.10pm and as soon as I came out of the shop, there were about four police cars, they turned around in the middle of the road, they were driving pretty fast.

‘There was a guy and I saw him pointing to a man and saying ”There he is, there he is”. If he hadn’t, they would have missed him. 

‘He was running really fast, properly fast. They put the emergency brakes on, jumped out of the car and rugby-tackled him to the floor.

‘He was on his stomach and the blood on his hands looked like he had put his hand in a big bucket of red paint.

‘They put the handcuffs on, he wasn’t putting up a fight or anything like that, they picked him up and put him in the van, he just sat there all quiet, he wasn’t saying nothing.’ 

As well as witnessing the arrest on Saturday, Mr McDonald says he had previously been assaulted by the suspect last year when he stopped him from shoplifting from the Sainsbury’s store where he works in Reading town centre.

Saadallah, who is thought to have only been released from prison for various offences 16 days ago, came to the attention of MI5 last year, after they suspected he was planning to travel to Syria for ‘extremist reasons’. 

He allegedly claimed to have fought both for and against ISIS, though officials assessing him found he didn’t subscribe to any ideology or belief system and instead had mental health issues.  

An investigation revealed no immediate risk or threat and he was not under surveillance at the time of his alleged rampage. 

In other developments in the shocking terror attack:

  • The parents of James Furlong, a teacher and the first confirmed victim of the rampage, paid tribute to him last night;
  • It emerged that Saadallah was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 16 days ago after less than half of his sentence;
  • Sources say Saadallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and delusional and paranoid schizophrenia, requiring medication; 
  • Anti-terror police believe that the suspect stopped taking his medication in the run-up to the knife rampage;
  • His cousin said Saadallah fled Libya to escape Islamists before later converting to Christianity in Britain and getting a tattoo of a cross on his arm;
  • He was flagged to MI5 as potentially wanting to travel to Syria for ISIS, though officials investigated and dismissed him as a threat, pointing to mental health issues rather than extremist ideology.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been accused of carrying out the shocking knife rampage in Reading on Saturday evening that left three people dead

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been arrested for a knife rampage in Reading on Saturday night that left three dead and another three injured

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been arrested for a knife rampage in Reading on Saturday night that left three dead and another three injured

Sainsbury's security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, who saw the Reading terror suspect being rugby-tackled to the ground by police

Sainsbury’s security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, who saw the Reading terror suspect being rugby-tackled to the ground by police

A relative of Khairi Saadallah (pictured), 25, says the terror suspect arrived in the UK as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum because he was at risk from Islamic extremists due to him not leading a 'strict religious life' in Libya

Khairi Sadallah

A relative of Khairi Saadallah (pictured), 25, says the terror suspect arrived in the UK as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum because he was at risk from Islamic extremists due to him not leading a ‘strict religious life’ in Libya

Saadallah, pictured smoking cannabis, is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year

Saadallah, pictured smoking cannabis, is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year

The Mail analyses the events that took place in Reading's Forbury Gardens on Saturday night which left three people dead and three more injured

The Mail analyses the events that took place in Reading’s Forbury Gardens on Saturday night which left three people dead and three more injured

Saadallah is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland because he ‘liked to drink’ and didn’t lead a ‘strict religious life’.

Last October, Saadallah was sentenced to 28 months for breaching a suspended jail term, racially aggravated assault, criminal damage and affray.

Why was he not deported? Reading terror suspect is 25-year-old Libyan refugee who ‘came out of prison two weeks ago’, had mental health problems and was known to MI5 

The terror suspect accused of stabbing three people to death in Reading is believed to be a Libyan refugee who was released from prison just two weeks ago and was previously known to MI5.

Last October, Khairi Saadallah, 25, was sentenced to 28 months for breaching a suspended jail term, racially aggravated assault, criminal damage and affray.

He was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 16 days ago after less than half of his sentence. 

Saadallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and delusional and paranoid schizophrenia, requiring medication before his release, a source told the Sun. 

Anti-terror police believe he stopped using his medication in the lead-up to Saturday’s horrific rampage. 

He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum saying he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland because he ‘liked to drink’ and didn’t lead a ‘strict religious life’. 

However, once in the UK, he ended up in prison after committing several violent, non-terror offences.  

He is even thought to have converted to Christianity and has a tattoo of a cross on his arm.

Saadallah is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year, after they suspected he was planning to travel to Syria for ‘extremist reasons’. 

It is believed that he claimed to have fought both for and against ISIS, though officials assessing him found he didn’t subscribe to any ideology or belief system and instead had mental health issues.  

An investigation revealed no immediate risk or threat and he was not under surveillance at the time of his alleged rampage. 

Despite his violent convictions, he is thought to have avoided deportation because of the UK policy not to deport foreign nationals to ‘failed states’ like Libya. 

 

He was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 16 days ago after less than half of his sentence. 

Saadallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and delusional and paranoid schizophrenia, requiring medication before his release, a source told the Sun. 

Anti-terror police believe he stopped using his medication in the lead-up to Saturday’s horrific rampage. 

He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland because he ‘liked to drink’ and didn’t lead a ‘strict religious life’. 

However, once in the UK, he ended up in prison after committing several violent, non-terror offences. He is even thought to have converted to Christianity and has a tattoo of a cross on his arm.

Despite his violent convictions, he is thought to have avoided deportation because of the UK policy not to deport foreign nationals to ‘failed states’ like Libya. 

Saadallah boasted to friends in the UK that he had fought as a child soldier against the forces of former Libya leader Colonel Gaddafi – which he said had forced him to flee the country.

However, his cousin disputed these claims and said Saadallah had fled to avoid conflict. 

She added that he heard voices and had psychotic episodes which left him thinking he was being followed.     

The cousin, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, added that, three years ago, Saadallah started dating a British woman who was ‘very religious’ and he started going to church, eventually converting to Christianity. 

Though the couple have since split, Saadallah maintained his faith, even have a tattoo of a cross etched onto his arm. 

His cousin added: ‘He’s not Muslim any more. It’s like he’s always been in the UK.’

In 2018, Saadallah was granted leave to remain in the UK for five years despite the convictions for violence.  

A source told the Sun: ‘Saadallah was on MI5’s radar for a few months last year over his aspirations to travel to Syria.

‘He had a history of violence and serious mental health problems so why was he granted leave to remain at all? There are major questions to be answered.’ 

His cousin in Libya said: ‘I can’t believe he’d do anything like this or be involved in anything to do with terrorism. He was at risk of extremists in Libya because he liked to drink and socialise and didn’t lead a strict religious life at all.

‘He started going to church and had tattoos all over his body including one of a cross on his arm. He did get in trouble in England and could be aggressive but I can’t ever imagine him getting drawn into something as serious as this.’    

Among his other offences, in March 2019 Saadallah spat at Judge Sophie Toms at Reading magistrates court as she sentenced him for previous offences.

He has also been convicted of possession of a bladed weapon and assaulting a police officer, which landed him an eight-month jail term.

He also threatened Sainsbury’s guard Mr McDonald with a broken bottle of wine when challenged for stealing it.

Forensic officers work near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place yesterday

Forensic officers work near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place yesterday

On Saturday, three people were killed and another three were injured in a frenzied knife attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading

On Saturday, three people were killed and another three were injured in a frenzied knife attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been arrested for the rampage. Forensic officers work near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been arrested for the rampage. Forensic officers work near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre

After witnessing Saturday’s arrest, Mr McDonald recalled: ‘When he attacked me outside the shop he broke a bottle and threatened to stab me and I defended myself. I put him to the floor, held him there … and he couldn’t get away from me and I held him until the police came.’

He added: ‘If I couldn’t have defended myself he probably would have killed me. But I knew how to handle it.

Reading town centre park terror attack: A timeline of events  

Saturday, June 20

– Around 6.45pm: Witnesses say a lone attacker with a knife targeted a group of people in Forbury Gardens near Reading town centre.

– 6.56pm: First emergency call is made to Thames Valley Police. Chief Constable John Campbell said officers arrested a man within five minutes of the call.

– Just before 10pm: Police ask members of the public not to share the graphic images or videos of the incident that are circulating on social media during the evening.

– 10.38pm: A security source tells the PA news agency that the incident is suspected to be terror-related and that the man arrested is Libyan.

– 10.56pm: Thames Valley Police says there is ‘no indication’ the incident is linked to the Black Lives Matter protest that took place earlier in the day.

– After 11pm: Several armed police officers are seen going into a block of flats off Basingstoke Road in Reading. 

Sunday June 21

– Around 1.30am: Thames Valley Police confirms three people have died and another three are seriously injured .

The force confirms a 25-year-old man is under arrest on suspicion of murder.

– 8.30am The incident is declared as terrorism, the head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu says, this is not made public until after 11am when Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) says it has taken over the incident.

– 9am: Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds meeting with security officials, police and senior ministers in Downing Street.

– 11.45am: Security source tells PA the suspect is a Libyan asylum seeker and mental health is being considered a major factor.

– Just after 12pm: Mr Basu says there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the attack and confirms it was not associated in any way with the Black Lives Matter protest in Reading earlier on Saturday.

– After 1pm: Suspect is understood to be named Khairi Saadallah.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is ‘appalled and sickened’ and pledges ‘we will not hesitate to take action’ if there are lessons to be learned.

– 4: 55pm: One of the victims in the Reading terror attack is named by The Holt School in Wokingham as James Furlong, its head of history and government and politics.

– Just before 6pm: Security sources reveal Saadallah briefly came to the attention of the security services in 2019, but the information provided did not meet the threshold for investigation.

– 6pm: It is understood MI5 had received intelligence the suspect planned to travel abroad, possibly for terrorism purposes, but the threat was found to be insubstantial and no case file was opened.

– 19.06: The suspect is re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, Counter Terrorism Policing South East announce.

– 19.28: It emerges the suspect was jailed in October for a complex series of non-terror offences for a period of two years, one month and 20 days – his sentence was reduced to one of 17 months and 20 days’ imprisonment in the Court of Appeal on March 19 of this year.

  • – 20.25: Mr Furlong’s family releases a statement through Thames Valley Police in which his parents describe him as ‘the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for’. They add: ‘We are thankful for the memories he gave us all. We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever.’ They request privacy to grieve in peace. 
  • ‘He pulled the bottle of alcohol out that he had nicked from Sainsbury’s then he smashed the bottle and came at me. He punched me in my face and I hit him back, his nose was bleeding. I kept him down on the floor until the police came.

    ‘I thought he had a knife because of the way he was behaving.’

    The suspect was charged with affray, assault by beating and two counts of having an offensive weapon, according to a report of the case in the Reading Chronicle. 

    Saadallah was given tough licence conditions after his release from prison, but lockdown-hit probation and social services struggled to monitor him. 

    A source said: ‘The motivation remains unclear. His issues mean any trigger could have been very quick.’  

    Speaking about his conversion to Christianity, the cousin said: ‘It might have been why about two or three years ago, he converted from Islam to Christianity.

    ‘He started going to church and had tattoos all over his body including one of a cross on his arm. I haven’t had contact with him since that time.

    ‘He lived in Manchester first and now lives in Reading. I think the authorities in Britain have tried to send him back to Libya but he doesn’t want to go back. He’s been in the UK for about seven years so is practically British now.’    

    Police are thought to be looking at mental health as a reason for the attack. 

    It comes as the heartbroken parents of a ‘kind and inspiring’ history teacher have paid tribute to him this evening after he was named as one of the three people killed in the frenzied terror attack in Reading yesterday.

    James Furlong, head of history at the Holt Community School in Wokingham, was stabbed to death along with two other victims in Forbury Gardens on Saturday evening.

    Another three people were seriously injured during the horrific attack, with suspect Khairi Saadallah, 25, arrested for the rampage. 

    Mr Furlong’s parents Gary and Janet released a statement through Thames Valley Police tonight which said: ‘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.’

    They asked for their privacy to be respected and said they will not comment further at this time. 

    Other tributes have also flooded in for Mr Furlong, with bosses from his school and parents of his pupils sharing their shock. 

    In a statement, Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, the co-headteachers at the Holt School, said: ‘James was very kind and a gentleman. He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and everyone of our students.

    ‘He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication.’

    Local councillor James Box, who lives in Wokingham and whose daughter was taught by Mr Furlong, described him as an ‘excellent teacher’.

    He said: ‘He was one of the teachers who taught my daughter Ellie. This has come as a real shock to us all. The school put out a message to parents to say he was one of these who died.’

    Councillor Box added: ‘He was a very good teacher – excellent. I did not know him very well though. He was very popular at The Holt.’

    Witnesses to the attack said a man with a ‘five inch knife’ targeted and stabbed people ‘at random’ before being ‘rugby-tackled’ to the ground by one unarmed police officer.

    One witness said the attacker pulled a knife and ‘shouted some unintelligible words’ before trying to stab people in the packed park, which was said to be filled with families and young children at the time. 

    On Saturday night, counter-terrorism police carried out a controlled explosion at the suspect’s home address. 

    Meanwhile, head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, said on Sunday there is ‘nothing to suggest anyone else was involved’ and that police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation.

    Police are considering mental health to be a major factor, according to security sources.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson meanwhile said he was ‘appalled and sickened’ by the suspected terror attack and promised the government will ‘not hesitate to take action where necessary’ if lessons needed to be learnt.  

    James Furlong, who is head of history at the Holt Community School in Wokingham, was stabbed to death during the incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading, yesterday evening

    James Furlong, who is head of history at the Holt Community School in Wokingham, was stabbed to death during the incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading, yesterday evening

    In a statement Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, the co-headteachers at the Holt School, said: 'James (pictured) was very kind and a gentleman. He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and everyone of our students

    Meanwhile, local councillor James Box, who lives in Wokingham, described Mr Furlong as an 'excellent teacher'

    In a statement Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, the co-headteachers at the Holt School, today said: ‘James (pictured) was very kind and a gentleman. He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and everyone of our students.

    Local councillor James Box, who lives in Wokingham, described Mr Furlong (pictured right with students) as an 'excellent teacher', while bosses at the school in which he worked described him as 'kind and a gentleman'

    Local councillor James Box, who lives in Wokingham, described Mr Furlong (pictured right with students) as an ‘excellent teacher’, while bosses at the school in which he worked described him as ‘kind and a gentleman’

    Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of the Berkshire town

    The video emerged as police revealed that counter-terrorism officers have been called in to help detectives in their murder probe following the attack, which took place around 7pm on Saturday

    Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of the Berkshire town.

    Counter-terrorism police last night searched a property in Basingstoke Road, Reading following the attack at Forbury Gardens yesterday

    Counter-terrorism police last night searched a property in Basingstoke Road, Reading following the attack at Forbury Gardens yesterday

    Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related, and carried out a controlled explosion at the suspect's home address. Pictured: Police outside a property in Basingstoke Road, Reading, yesterday

    Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related, and carried out a controlled explosion at the suspect’s home address. Pictured: Police outside a property in Basingstoke Road, Reading, yesterday

    Police officers collect floral tributes left at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading after three people died last night in a multiple stabbing attack

    Police officers collect floral tributes left at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading after three people died last night in a multiple stabbing attack

    A police officer places the floral tributes near to the scene of the attack last night, which also left three people seriously injured

    A police officer places the floral tributes near to the scene of the attack last night, which also left three people seriously injured

    As the knifeman approached his first victims, picnickers in the park believed he was simply playing a game. They described watching people collapse after the man appeared to ‘tap’ them. 

    Moments later, they spotted the knife and the blood, and heard people start to scream and run for their lives. 

    Witnesses said the man first targeted a group of men who were sitting together and drinking in the early evening sunshine in Forbury Gardens, in Reading, on Saturday evening.

    The park was busy with friends and families enjoying the relative freedom of being able to meet up after months under coronavirus lockdown.

    A witness saw the man approach a group of friends sat ‘just in a circle chatting’.

    He thought initially they were sat in a circle to play a children’s playground game, Duck Duck Goose, where one person taps the others on the head, moving around the circle. 

    The witness, named only as Dan, said: ‘He was tapping them on the head. Then I thought someone had been sick. But it was blood spraying out.’

    Personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, was sitting in the park 30ft away from the attacker when he began shouting and moved towards a group of ‘about eight or 10′ drinkers’. 

    ‘The park was pretty full,’ he said. ‘One group of friends were sitting drinking when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around, trying to stab them. 

    ‘He darted round the circle anticlockwise, got one, went to another, stabbed the next one,’ Mr Wort told The Telegraph. ‘I still thought it was a scuffle. I was watching because I didn’t want to get involved in anything.

    ‘But then he stood up and I saw a massive knife in his hand, probably at least five inches, minimum. He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running.’ 

    ‘I heard a lot of screams in the park, a lot of people realised and started running,’ he said. The knifeman gave up the chase and turned back, pouncing on another party that had their back to him, unaware of what was going on.’

    Mr Wort said he saw three people ‘severely’ stabbed in the neck and under the arms before the knifeman tried to turn on him.    

    Thames Valley police chiefs say the cordon near to where the incident will likely remain up for 'some time' following the incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading on Saturday

    Thames Valley police chiefs say the cordon near to where the incident will likely remain up for ‘some time’ following the incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading on Saturday

    Thames Valley Police have also reassured residents that there will be an extra police presence on the streets yesterday following the attack

    Thames Valley Police have also reassured residents that there will be an extra police presence on the streets yesterday following the attack

    Police tents in Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre at the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday

    Police tents in Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre at the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday

    Police officers were standing guard on Sunday outside the corridor of a top-floor flat in Basingstoke Road, Reading

    Police officers were standing guard on Sunday outside the corridor of a top-floor flat in Basingstoke Road, Reading

    Hero lone officer who rugby-tackled knifeman is praised by police union chiefs 

    By Bhvishya Patel for MailOnline

    The hero officer who rugby-tackled a Libyan knifeman who had only moments earlier stabbed three people to death has been praised by police chiefs.

    The lone police sergeant was able to tackle the 25-year-old knife suspect to the ground, as he tried to flee the scene of the attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading, at around 7pm yesterday, according to witnesses.

    Police union chiefs praised the brave unarmed officer, who was one of the first to arrive at the scene after the alarm was raised, along with other members of staff for ‘running towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public’.  

    Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O’Leary said yesterday: ‘First and foremost our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the horrific incident last night and we wish our very best to those still injured.

    ‘There can be no doubt that the swift response of our Thames Valley Police colleagues saved further harm from being caused and potentially more lives from being lost.

    ‘There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public we serve. Other colleagues valiantly rushed to the scene to try and save and preserve life.

    ‘While the investigation into this incident continues, what we can say is the public can rightly be proud of their emergency services today.’

     

    It came as dramatic footage emerged of the suspect being wrestled to the ground and arrested.  

    Speaking of the moment, a police source told the Sunday Mirror: ‘A man pulled a knife and started attacking people at random in Reading, near the Crown Court.

    ‘It is thought there was one attacker who has surrendered to police.

    ‘It appears the attack was stopped when a lone sergeant, who responded when the alarm was raised, ran to the scene, saw the attacker running away with a knife and rugby tackled him to the ground.’

    Gruesome footage on social media revealed the attack’s appalling aftermath – three men lying a few feet apart on blood-soaked grass. Police arrived within minutes and frantically tried to keep them alive. 

    Yesterday, the Thames Valley Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in the area, praised the bravery of officers who responded to the attack.

    Chairman Craig O’Leary said: ‘First and foremost our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the horrific incident last night and we wish our very best to those still injured.

    ‘There can be no doubt that the swift response of our Thames Valley Police colleagues saved further harm from being caused and potentially more lives from being lost.

    ‘There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public we serve. Other colleagues valiantly rushed to the scene to try and save and preserve life.

    ‘While the investigation into this incident continues, what we can say is the public can rightly be proud of their emergency services today.’   

    Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack 'by a Libyan man' left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured

    Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack ‘by a Libyan man’ left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured 

    Witnesses said the attacker targeted a group of middle-aged men ‘sitting drinking beer’ in Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre at around 7pm on Saturday and systematically stabbed them ‘in the neck and under the arms’. Pictured: Counter-terror offices raiding a flat around a mile from the park

    Around 20 officers swarmed into the four-storey block of flats about a mile from the park as a helicopter circled overhead

    Around 20 officers swarmed into the four-storey block of flats about a mile from the park as a helicopter circled overhead

    Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer described the stabbing as ‘horrific’ and said this is ‘not a time for party politics’.

    He said: ‘It’s horrific that it happened at all wherever it happened, and across Reading, across the country there will be communities really upset and worried about this, united in their grief.

    ‘And all of our thoughts are with those who have lost someone in this.’

    He added: ‘It’s very important that the investigation runs its course but I will want to work with the Government in response to this, to look at whether there’s lessons that can be learned, whether there need to be changes to the law.

    ‘But I think as a constructive opposition, I will want to speak to the Prime Minister to discuss how together, we can improve the response, learn from this. The investigation must be completed, but of course, this is not a time for party politics.’

    Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell described the scene of the attack as ‘horrific’.

    At a short press briefing, he said: ‘As you can imagine the scene we came across was pretty horrific.

    ‘We had a number of officers that were in the community because they were patrolling around Reading and they were there very quickly.

    ‘We also had a number of people in the park that were witnesses to this incident and they saw the terrible tragedy unfold.

    ‘So you can imagine both for my officers but also for those that were involved it was very distressing and we are doing all that we can to make sure we are supporting them as well as progressing the criminal inquiry.’  

    A witness, named Dan, told the Sunday Mirror that the group of people who were attacked were ‘just in a circle chatting.’ 

    He said how he thought the people were playing, ‘duck duck goose’, a children’s game which sees participants sit in a circle while someone taps them on the head. 

    ‘He [the attacker] was tapping them on the head. Then I thought someone had been sick. But it was blood spraying out,’ he said. 

    The man said he and his friends then got up and began to run away when the attacker began running toward Reading Station.  

    Another witness told Mirror Online he saw blood spurting from victims, who dropped to the ground ‘like a weight’. 

    A fourth described how they saw CPR being performed on at least three people. 

    The mass stabbing led to at least two victims being taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital following the 'serious incident' in Forbury Gardens in Reading's town centre. Pictured: Paramedics and investigators in forensic suits at the scene

    The mass stabbing led to at least two victims being taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital following the ‘serious incident’ in Forbury Gardens in Reading’s town centre. Pictured: Paramedics and investigators in forensic suits at the scene

    Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is said to be closely monitoring the situation, said she was 'deeply concerned' by the incident

    Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is said to be closely monitoring the situation, said she was ‘deeply concerned’ by the incident

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the 'appalling' attack and thanked the emergency services

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the ‘appalling’ attack and thanked the emergency services

    Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as 'very concerning'

    Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as ‘very concerning’

    A distressing video posted on social media showed four wounded people lying on grass as officers gave them CPR

    The officers were seen running towards the people on the ground

    A distressing video posted on social media showed four wounded people lying on grass as officers gave them CPR. The officers were seen running towards the people on the ground

    Forbury Gardens has been the site of recent Black Lives Matter protests, including one which ended around two hours before the stabbings

    Forbury Gardens has been the site of recent Black Lives Matter protests, including one which ended around two hours before the stabbings

    The last confirmed UK terror attack took place in February when Sudesh Amman stabbed three people in Streatham, South London, before being shot dead by police.   

    Allister Smith, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Sunday, told BBC Radio 5 Live that a nurse had told him that three people were killed in the attack.   

    ‘I was being seen by a nurse who was taking my vitals,’ he said. 

    ‘She seemed a bit shaken. She was chatting to one of her colleagues and then she turned round to me and said three people are dead.’  

    The distressing video of the aftermath of the attack showed police giving CPR to one injured person as someone else could be heard saying ‘he’s still breathing’.  

    Why was he not deported? Reading terror suspect is 25-year-old Libyan refugee who ‘came out of prison two weeks ago’, had mental health problems and was known to MI5

    The terror suspect accused of stabbing three people to death in Reading is believed to be a Libyan refugee who was released from prison just two weeks ago and was previously known to MI5.

    Last October, Khairi Saadallah, 25, was sentenced to 28 months for breaching a suspended jail term, racially aggravated assault, criminal damage and affray.

    He was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 16 days ago after less than half of his sentence. 

    Saadallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and delusional and paranoid schizophrenia, requiring medication before his release, a source told the Sun. 

    Anti-terror police believe he stopped using his medication in the lead-up to Saturday’s horrific rampage. 

    He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland because he ‘liked to drink’ and didn’t lead a ‘strict religious life’. 

    However, once in the UK, he ended up in prison after committing several violent, non-terror offences. He is even thought to have converted to Christianity and has a tattoo of a cross on his arm.

    Saadallah is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year, after they suspected he was planning to travel to Syria for ‘extremist reasons’. 

    He allegedly claimed to have fought both for and against ISIS, though officials assessing him found he didn’t subscribe to any ideology or belief system and instead had mental health issues.  

    An investigation revealed no immediate risk or threat and he was not under surveillance at the time of his alleged rampage. 

    Despite his violent convictions, he is thought to have avoided deportation because of the UK policy not to deport foreign nationals to ‘failed states’ like Libya. 

    Saadallah boasted to friends in the UK that he had fought as a child soldier against the forces of former Libya leader Colonel Gaddafi – which he said had forced him to flee the country.

    However, his cousin disputed these claims and said Saadallah had fled to avoid conflict. 

    She added that he heard voices and had psychotic episodes which left him thinking he was being followed.     

    He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland

    He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland 

    Saadallah, pictured smoking cannabis, is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year

    Saadallah, pictured smoking cannabis, is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year

    Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of the Berkshire town

    The video emerged as police revealed that counter-terrorism officers have been called in to help detectives in their murder probe following the attack, which took place around 7pm on Saturday

    Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of Reading

    Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday

    Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday 

    Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured

    Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured 

    The cousin, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, added that, three years ago, Saadallah started dating a British woman who was ‘very religious’ and he started going to church, eventually converting to Christianity. 

    Though the couple have since split, Saadallah maintained his faith, even have a tattoo of a cross etched onto his arm. 

    His cousin added: ‘ He’s not Muslim any more. It’s like he’s always been in the UK.’

    Foreign nationals who are convicted of criminal offences can be deported under the UK Borders Act 2007 if certain conditions are met. 

    The offender must be convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and sentenced to a prison term of 12 months or more.  

    In 2018, however, Saadallah was granted leave to remain in the UK for five years despite the convictions for violence.  

    A source told the Sun: ‘Saadallah was on MI5’s radar for a few months last year over his aspirations to travel to Syria.

    ‘He had a history of violence and serious mental health problems so why was he granted leave to remain at all? There are major questions to be answered.’ 

    His cousin in Libya said: ‘I can’t believe he’d do anything like this or be involved in anything to do with terrorism. He was at risk of extremists in Libya because he liked to drink and socialise and didn’t lead a strict religious life at all.

    ‘He started going to church and had tattoos all over his body including one of a cross on his arm. He did get in trouble in England and could be aggressive but I can’t ever imagine him getting drawn into something as serious as this.’    

    Among his other offences, in March 2019 Saadallah spat at Judge Sophie Toms at Reading magistrates court as she sentenced him for previous offences.

    He has also been convicted of possession of a bladed weapon and assaulting a police officer, which landed him an eight-month jail term.

    He threatened a Sainsbury’s guard with a broken bottle of wine when challenged for stealing it.

    Saadallah was given tough licence conditions after his release from prison, but lockdown-hit probation and social services struggled to monitor him. 

    A source said: ‘The motivation remains unclear. His issues mean any trigger could have been very quick.’ 

    Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was 'deeply concerned' by the incident in Reading

    Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was ‘deeply concerned’ by the incident in Reading

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the 'appalling' attack and thanked the emergency services

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the ‘appalling’ attack and thanked the emergency services

    Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as 'very concerning'

    Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as ‘very concerning’

    Three people were killed and another three were injured in the attack on Saturday evening.  

    The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved.  Police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation, Mr Basu said.  

    South Central Ambulance Service said five ambulance crews as well as two air ambulance services were among the resources sent to treat the casualties.

    Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related

    Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related

    Pictured: Counter-terror offices raiding a flat around a mile from the park on June 21

    Pictured: Counter-terror offices raiding a flat around a mile from the park on June 21

    A tap on the head… then carnage: Chilling movements of the Reading attacker as he chose his victims before hero PC tackled him to the ground

    As the knifeman approached his first victims, picnickers in the park believed he was simply playing a game.

    They described watching people collapse after the man appeared to ‘tap’ them. 

    Moments later, they spotted the knife and the blood, and heard people start to scream and run for their lives.

    A man killed three people in a knife attack at a park in Reading (pictured: the entrace being closed by police) and witnesses have revealed their first-hand accounts of the attack

    A man killed three people in a knife attack at a park in Reading (pictured: the entrace being closed by police) and witnesses have revealed their first-hand accounts of the attack

    The Mail analyses the events that took place in Reading's Forbury Gardens on Saturday night

    The Mail analyses the events that took place in Reading’s Forbury Gardens on Saturday night

    Witnesses said the man, believed to be Libyan-born Khairi Saadallah, first targeted a group of men who were sitting together and drinking in the early evening sunshine in Forbury Gardens, in Reading, on Saturday evening.

    The park was busy with friends and families enjoying the relative freedom of being able to meet up after months under coronavirus lockdown.

    Capture: Mobile phone footage of a man, circled, on the floor as he is arrested by police

    Capture: Mobile phone footage of a man, circled, on the floor as he is arrested by police

    On the other side of the park, Greg Wilton was enjoying a picnic with his wife Amy and their friends. They ran over to try to help the victims and described a horrifying scene. 

    Mr Wilton said: ‘We ran over and without seeing an attacker we found three men lying on the floor bleeding profusely from what we thought was their heads, necks or body.’

    Mr Wilton added: ‘Me and my friend Tom put a second victim in the recovery position and tried to stem his bleeding from his ear with my canvas shopping bag.

    ‘His breathing became increasingly irregular, and shallower until the police and paramedics arrived to help us.

    ‘Another friend of mine, Ranveer, helped an Asian man who had also been stabbed in the face.’

    The knifeman ran from the park but was tackled to the ground minutes later as he fled down a nearby street.

    Police said he was arrested within five minutes of the first 999 calls, which were made at 6.56pm.

    Aftermath: Police tents at the scene of the attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading (pictured) yesterday. Officers arrested the knifeman around five minutes after the first 999 calls made at 6.56pm

    Aftermath: Police tents at the scene of the attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading (pictured) yesterday. Officers arrested the knifeman around five minutes after the first 999 calls made at 6.56pm 

    Forensic police fly a drone (pictured) over the crime scene at Forbury Gardens, Reading

    Forensic police fly a drone (pictured) over the crime scene at Forbury Gardens, Reading 

    Deliveroo driver Amir Hadyoon, 31, said he saw four or five officers chasing the knifeman before he was ‘slide tackled’ to the ground by the police. 

    He added: ‘When he was on the ground there was nothing, he wasn’t even blinking.

    ‘The police got on top of him and one of them just handcuffed him. I could see his hand was full of blood.’ 

    Mr Hadyoon described the suspect as lying on the ground, seemingly not reacting to the situation which was unfolding.

    He said: ‘When he [the suspect] was on the ground there was nothing – he was completely silent, he was barely blinking.

    ‘He didn’t care, he was just staring in front of him. For him, the job was done, you know, from the way he looked.’ 

    Meanwhile, two air ambulances took victims to hospital and Reading was put into lockdown as officers began shutting streets and placing a cordon around the murder scene.

    Around an hour after the first 999 calls, police began evacuating residents from a block of flats in Basingstoke Road in Reading.

    Home: Flats (pictured) believed to be the suspect’s residence which was visited by armed officers

    Home: Flats (pictured) believed to be the suspect’s residence which was visited by armed officers

    Armed officers entered the block of flats (pictured) at around 11pm on Saturday evening carrying semi-automatic weapons

    Armed officers entered the block of flats (pictured) at around 11pm on Saturday evening carrying semi-automatic weapons

    At about 11pm, around a dozen counter-terrorism officers carrying semi-automatic weapons entered the building. 

    They wore helmets, body armour and respirator masks and one carried a massive circular saw.

    A neighbour who witnessed the raid said: ‘I looked outside my door and there were armed police everywhere. 

    ‘I came out and police were on all the floors and in every stairwell. They had the place surrounded.’


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