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London Bridge attack inquests: Ringleader turned from 'earnest and hardworking' schoolboy to violent extremist

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The ringleader of the London Bridge terror attack turned from an “earnest and hardworking” schoolboy to a violent extremist, an inquest heard.


The Old Bailey heard how the Pakistan-born terrorist Khuram Butt, 27, “brought shame” on his family by appearing an a television documentary in 2016.

Just two years before the attack, a family member had reported him to an anti-terrorism hotline over concerns for his extremist views, the Old Bailey were told.

On June 3 2017, he killed eight people and injured 48 more in a van and knife attack on London Bridge and Borough Market with Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22.

The London Underground customer services assistant had got to know Redouane after he began training at the Ummah Fitness Centre in Ilford Road while on sick leave in 2016, the Old Bailey was told.

On steroids: Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He also befriended Zaghba through Sunday afternoon swimming sessions and they both volunteered at Ad-Deen Primary School, in Ilford, east London, where the partner of the gym’s owner worked, the inquest heard.

The television documentary The Jihadi Next Door, which had aired in January 2016, depicted Butt as a willing participant who “condemned the UK government”, particularly actions in Iraq and Syria, said Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the coroner.

In a clip aired in court but not included in the programme, Butt ranted: “The government is extreme, they have killed the most, strategically.

“When the war comes here and the aeroplanes come let’s see if you agree with the air strikes.”

The court heard Butt’s relatives said he “brought shame on the family” in the programme and forced him to apologise.

Shocking footage: Khuram Butt appeared in Channel 4’s The Jihadi Next Door (Channel 4)

His wife Zahrah Rehman also briefly moved back to her parents’ after Butt requested to take a second wife, the court heard.

In the summer of 2016, Butt had been employed by London Underground as a customer service assistant on a salary of £23,000.

The inquest was told background checks did not flag up Butt’s involvement with the documentary, before he went off sick claiming the “company shoes were causing issues” and he was sacked in October 2016.

Mr Hough said: “His employment gave him access to a London Underground station in a security capacity?”

Butt was born in Pakistan in 1990 and came to Britain on a visitor’s visa with his family at the age of eight.

In 2004, following the death of his father from a heart attack, he was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

He went to schools in Forest Gate and Stratford in east London, gaining 11 GCSEs.

Killer: Khuram Butt was behind the London Bridge terror attack

He was described by one teacher as “enthusiastic, earnest and hardworking”.

A friend told police Butt liked playing football, supported Arsenal and was into reggae music.

In his early twenties, he was a “normal guy, smoking tobacco and cannabis”, according to the friend.

Butt’s sister Haleema Butt described him in 2012 as being a “party animal”.

But around 2013, he began showing signs of extremism, telling a colleague that the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in a terror attack was “an eye for an eye”, the inquest heard.

He married Zahrah Rehman in December 2013 and they went on to have two children, his daughter born just a month before the terror attack.

After the wedding, his father-in-law, Abdul Rehman-Butt, became “concerned” that Butt wanted to go to Syria, the inquest heard.

The van used by terrorists Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba driving over London Bridge before mounting the pavement in the 2017 terror attack. (PA)

In early 2015, Butt had bought a ticket to travel and his family threatened to disown him and report him to the police.

His wife said they spoke about Isis but her husband did not directly say he wanted to go to the country, the inquest heard.

In September 2015, his brother-in-law Usman Darr reported Butt to the anti-terrorist hotline after he challenged him on his views on an IS execution of a pilot who was burned to death in a cage.

The court heard how Butt paid £70 for the online hire of the van used in the attack.

Previously, he had sought a handout from Transport for London’s staff welfare fund and got money from his wife on the pretence he was going to buy a car.

He also made cash by obtaining mobile phones and selling them on Gumtree.

Between 2015 and 2017, Butt was the subject of a counter terrorism investigation and he was arrested on suspicion of fraud in 2016.

In July 2016, he was arrested over a scuffle with a Quilliam counter terrorism think-tank researcher at an Ilford park – but no charges were brought.

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