UK London Bridge terrorist like uncaged lion after meeting hate preacher Anjem Choudary

Khuram Butt had sought to justify ISIS beheadings before launching 2017 attack

The van used in the June 3 2017 London Bridge attack that left eight dead (Metropolitan Police London via AP)
The van used in the June 3 2017 London Bridge attack that left eight dead (Metropolitan Police London via AP)

A leader of the 2017 London Bridge terrorist attack behaved like an uncaged lion after meeting the notorious extremist preacher Anjem Choudary, an inquest has heard.

Khuram Butt, 27, started associating with the former leader of the now-banned Al Muhajiroun extremist group as he changed from a “well-mannered” schoolboy to a murderous extremist who sought to justify the beheadings of ISIS prisoners in Syria.

He was one of three men who mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge in a van in June 2017 before running amok with knives, killing eight and injuring 48 others.

The three attackers – Butt, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 – were all shot dead within 10 minutes of the start of the rampage.

Police believe Butt first came into contact with Choudary in late 2014 and was “energised” in his company, one of his friends said.

The friend said that Butt was “like a lion out of a cage” when the former solicitor was around, said Jonathan Hough, a barrister for the inquest.

Choudary was jailed in 2015 for inviting support for ISIS after years of using his legal training to stay on the right side of the law. He was released from prison in October last year.

His organisation has been held responsible by authorities for radicalising young Britons, many of whom have been involved in domestic attacks or travelled abroad to join the ranks of ISIS.

The increasingly extremist views of the Pakistan-born Butt had caused concerns among his family and friends for several years before the attack, the inquest in London was told.

He argued with members of his family who destroyed his passport and a one-way ticket to Syria after they learnt of his travel plans.

Butt was also barred from some mosques for interrupting and challenging imams.

His brother-in-law contacted an anti-terrorism police hotline in September 2015 after Butt defended the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS after his plane crashed over Syria.

A year earlier, he had sought to justify the murder of a British soldier in similar circumstances to a work colleague.

The court heard that he appeared in a 2016 British television documentary railing against British and US foreign policy in the Middle East.

In the documentary, Butt prays with six other men before the black flag of ISIS. He was investigated by police after the broadcast but was not prosecuted.

Footage, which was not broadcast, was played at the hearing on Tuesday showing Butt involved in protest outside a central London mosque.

"When the war comes here and the airplanes come, let's see if you agree with the air strikes,” he told a reporter.

The inquest heard that Butt apologised to relatives for appearing on the programme after they told him he had brought shame on the family.

The inquest heard that the three attackers attended a Muslim gym in London.

Butt and Zaghba volunteered to work at the Ad Deen Primary School in East London where the partner of the gym’s owner worked.

Updated: May 29, 2019 03:27 AM

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