Westminster Copycat terror attack: ex-Coventry University student jailed for life - The Coventry Observer

Westminster Copycat terror attack: ex-Coventry University student jailed for life

Coventry Editorial 15th Oct, 2019   0

A FORMER Coventry University accountancy student who deliberately drove into pedestrians, cyclists and two police officers, in a copycat terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament, has been jailed for life.

Salih Khater, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, was previously found guilty at the Old Bailey on July 17 of two counts of attempted murder.

The 30-year-old was sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole (Monday October 11) at the same court.

On sentencing, Mrs Justice McGowan found Khater had deliberately copied other terrorists and “by extraordinary good fortune no deaths or life-threatening injuries were caused.”

After failing his exams at Coventry University Khater was asked to leave at the end of the 2018 academic year.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I am pleased at today’s sentence and that an extremely dangerous individual will be behind bars for a considerable time. This was a man who used his car as a weapon to attempt to kill as many people as possible spreading fear and terror. It was our view that this attack was carried out with a terrorist purpose and the sentence confirms this.

“I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding professionalism and bravery of all the officers who responded to this incident. Armed officers were on the scene within seconds.

“…The response of those officers and indeed, all emergency service responders to this incident was truly remarkable.

“My thoughts too are with all the victims of this terrible attack. Many were left with physical and psychological injuries, which are still impacting on their lives today. I only hope that today’s outcome can give them some small comfort.”

At 7.40am on August 14 last year Khater drove the wrong way along a street into cyclists and pedestrians before driving directly at two uniformed police officers standing at the security barrier outside the Palace of Westminster.

He first struck a jogger crossing the road. He then drove into, and through the middle of, 14 cyclists, striking some and causing others to fall to the ground. Six of them received injuries, including a broken collar bone and bruising.

Khater then swerved across the central traffic island towards the Palace of Westminster and accelerated directly at two uniformed police officers positioned inside the Palace’s security barrier. Both officers only just managed to leap clear and avoid being struck as the car collided into the barrier.

Due to the style of his attack an investigation was launched by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (CTC). Detectives gathered several hours of CCTV footage showing Khater’s movements from when he arrived in London from Birmingham just after midnight on August 14 last year.

Khater first parked his silver Ford Fiesta in Tottenham Court Road. By 6.10am, he headed towards Westminster where he carried what officers believe was reconnaissance. He drove slowly up and down Parliament and around Parliament Square, tracing his subsequent attack route.

At 6.16am, he parked in Great Peter Street, walked towards Millbank and looked towards Parliament. Around 7.37am, Khater drove three times around Parliament Square. On his fourth time, he suddenly veered off at speed, driving at opposing traffic outside the Houses of Parliament.

Armed officers rapidly moved in and arrested Khater on suspicion of terrorist offences. A search of the vehicle did not find any other weapons. Khater was taken to a south London police station and gave a no comment interview throughout.

Alison Morgan QC in a speech to jurors said the attack was “premeditated and deliberate”.

In his defence, Khater’s lawyer, Peter Carter QC, said: “Had there been any evidence of any link between this man and a terrorist organisation or terrorist individual, or had there been any connection that he had expressed any interest in or showed any desire to pursue any link to terrorism it would have been before your ladyship.

“There is not. The lack of evidence is not a proper basis for drawing a conclusion there is evidence of a terrorist connection.”

Searches were carried out at addresses linked to Khater in Birmingham and Nottingham, assisted by colleagues from the East Midlands and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Policing Units. Detectives were able to establish that there were no other suspects involved and further examination of evidence and intelligence confirmed that there was no outstanding threat to the public.

Khater was subsequently charged with the attempted murder of members of the public, and with the attempted murder of police officers.


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