Suspect had been reported to police at least twice: Report

Police officers walking at the scene of the terror attack on London Bridge, on June 3, 2017.
Police officers walking at the scene of the terror attack on London Bridge, on June 3, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • One of the three London attackers shot dead last Saturday was flagged to the anti-terror police on at least two occasions but no action was taken by the authorities, according to claims reported by The Telegraph news site yesterday.

A former friend of the dead man claimed in an interview with the BBC that he had alerted police to his concerns.

A neighbour also claimed that she had contacted police in Barking, east London, after the suspect tried to convert her children to Islam and radicalise them, reported The Telegraph.

The dead man has not been named at the request of the police.

The former friend claimed he called a police anti-terrorist hotline after he became alarmed at the man's increasingly extremist views. The friend told the BBC's Asian Network that the suspect had been radicalised by watching videos of infamous US hate preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril.

He said: "We spoke about a particular attack that happened and, like most radicals, he had a justification for anything and everything, and that day I realised I needed to contact the authorities."

He added: "He used to listen to a lot of Musa Jibril. I have heard some of this stuff, and it is very radical. I am surprised this stuff is still on YouTube and is easily accessible. I phoned the anti-terror hotline. I spoke to the gentleman. I told him about our conversation and why I think he was radicalised."

However, he said the man was not arrested and was allowed to keep his passport.

"I did my bit, I know a lot of other people did their bit, but the authorities did not do their bit," he said.

Ms Erica Gasparri, an Italian mother of three who lived close to the suspect, claimed that she had reported the man to Barking police two years ago, after he began "brainwashing" her children at a local park.

She said she had confronted him after her two children came home and said: "Mummy, I want to become a Muslim."

She said the police told her that the information had been passed to Scotland Yard, but she had heard nothing more about it.

Ms Gasparri said: "He was trying to radicalise the children - he would go down to the park and talk to them about Islam. He also came to the houses and gave the kids money and sweets during Ramadan."

On Sunday, counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in King's Road in Barking, where the man was believed to have lived with his wife and two children.

According to media reports, the attacker had worked at a branch of fast-food chain KFC before leaving two years ago for a job at the London Underground.

Many of the locals described him as "polite and normal", reported The Telegraph, and said they were shocked that he could be a terrorist.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'Suspect had been reported to police at least twice: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe