Belfast Telegraph

London terrorist’s widow can’t look at photos of victims

Killer: Khuram Butt
Killer: Khuram Butt

By Lewis Pennock

The widow of the London Bridge terror attack ringleader broke down in court as she said she is still "not able to look at" photos of the eight victims and had laid flowers at the scene.

Zahrah Rehman, who was married to Khuram Butt (27), denied she "closed her eyes" to his extremist views, despite not reporting concerns to authorities.

Giving evidence at the inquest into the attacks, she said she left tributes at the bridge and mourned "with the rest of London".

She told the Old Bailey her family took away the couple's passports after Butt bought flights to Turkey as a suspected route to Syria to join the Islamic State militant group.

She said the last time she saw her husband, on June 3, 2017 - hours before he launched the attack with Rachid Redouane (30) and Youssef Zaghba (22) - he gave her a "peck" on the cheek at their family home.

Hours later the trio murdered Xavier Thomas (45), Christine Archibald (30), Sara Zelenak (21), Sebastien Belanger (36), James McMullan (32), Kirsty Boden (28), Alexandre Pigeard (26) and Ignacio Echeverria (39), in an attack lasting under 10 minutes.

They used a van to launch the attack before continuing their assault on foot, wielding 12in ceramic knives.

Armed police stormed Butt's home at about 8am the following day and arrested Ms Rehman, she said.

Sobbing, she told the inquest: "I could not register it that I was living with him and he was in the same house as me and my kids. And how could he do that? I could not register it.

"Even now, it's been like two years, and I have not been able to look at the victims' pictures."

Ms Rehman added: "Nobody knows this but I went to the bridge and laid flowers for the victims' families. Nobody knew that I was his wife. I was there."

Counsel to the coroner Jonathan Hough QC asked her: "What would you say if it was suggested that you closed your eyes to signs he might do something terrible?"

She said he "never showed any signs" of planning an atrocity.

Earlier in her evidence yesterday, Ms Rehman said her family seized their passports, along with her son's, after Butt bought tickets for a "holiday" in Turkey.

"He didn't admit that he wanted to go to Syria but everybody was really doubtful of his intentions," Ms Rehman said.

"It led to people in my family taking my passport, his passport and my son's passport away just to protect us."

The tickets were bought around the beginning of 2016, when Butt started associating with hate preacher Anjem Choudary, the inquest heard.

Mr Hough asked if she put "two and two together" and thought to "tell the authorities".

She said: "Everybody thought they had got through to him and he made promises to everyone."

The couple, both of Pakistani heritage, had an arranged marriage on Christmas Day 2013.

Videos were shown in court of their honeymoon in Pakistan, including one of the pair riding a camel as Butt made Arabic statements linked to IS.

In a second video recorded on a plane, Butt and Ms Rehman spoke about airports, including a "London airport", being renamed after Islamic extremists.

Mr Hough said: "Did that not trouble you?"

She said: "Not at that time, I just brushed it off as a stupid joke." She had suggested naming one Abu Luqman, an alias used by Anjem Choudary.

Ms Rehman said she suggested Choudary's alias "to carry on the joke".

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