Brother of London Bridge attacker felt ‘capable in monitoring him’ alone
Saad Butt, who had carried out anti-extremism work with government funding, gave evidence at the inquest into the deaths of the eight victims.
The eldest brother of one of the London Bridge terrorists did not report him to authorities as he felt “capable in monitoring him” alone, an inquest has heard.
Saad Butt, who had carried out anti-extremism work with Government funding and also advised Scotland Yard, said he felt “competent” supervising attacker Khuram Butt, 27, “because of the background that I’ve got”.
The youth worker gave evidence at the inquest into the deaths of the eight victims at the Old Bailey on Friday.
After Butt expressed a desire to live in the Isis caliphate, and bought one-way tickets to Turkey for himself and his wife Zahrah in 2015, counsel to the coroner Jonathan Hough QC asked if Mr Butt considered telling the security services.
Mr Butt, who worked for a project called the Young Muslim Advisory Group up until 2012, replied: “Not at all. I felt capable in monitoring him, keeping in touch with him. I felt competent in doing that because of the background I had.”
Mr Butt also told the court he did not know his brother had appeared in a Channel 4 documentary called the Jihadis Next Door in 2016 – a time when he was grieving over the death of his daughter in an accident.
Mr Hough said: “Some may think it surprising that your brother appeared in a nationally broadcast programme associating with extremists, something most people find very shocking, that you, his elder brother, were not told about that by the rest of the family.”
Mr Butt replied: “My daughter died because of third degree burns and I think as far as the family was concerned that was the least of my worries.”
He added: “Me and my wife totally collapsed.”
The inquest heard that between 2015 and 2017 Butt had expressed strong anti-Western views, shared videos of child beheadings on WhatsApp, and been expelled from a mosque because of his views.
He also had a “physical altercation” with someone from the anti-extremism Quilliam Organisation over a row about Darwinism and evolution, the court heard.
Two other family members had reported the jihadist on two different occasions in 2015, the inquest heard.
After Butt was arrested in October 2016 for fraud, but with counter-terror officers involved in the raid, Mr Butt said he felt “reassured” authorities were “doing their part in the background to monitor him”.
At a barbecue held by Butt to celebrate his daughter’s birth just weeks before the atrocity, one of his associates skewered a piece of meat and said “this is how you gut a kuffar (non-Muslim)”, Mr Butt told the hearing.
The next day fellow attacker Rachid Redouane bought the three 12in ceramic knives used in the slaughter.
Mr Butt also told the court of a dream he had in April 2017, where his brother approached him “with a shaven face and a suicide vest” and “just as he’s about to detonate it I hug him”.
Eight people were killed and 48 others injured when Butt, Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack on June 3 2017.
The three men mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge before rampaging through Borough Market and stabbing people at random before they were killed by police.
Gareth Patterson QC, representing six victims’ families, suggested to Mr Butt that counter-terror officers may have been “crying out” for his assistance.
Mr Butt replied: “At the time there was nothing he was saying or doing that indicated otherwise.
“There was not even an inkling in me to add to it and and say ‘this is what I think he’s doing’ because I felt reassured that was being done in the background.
“There was nothing further I could have added to it.”
Mr Butt said “in hindsight” he should have contacted counter-terror services.
On Thursday Butt’s widow, Zahrah Rehman, broke down in court as she said she had laid flowers at the scene but is “not able to look” at photos of the victims.
The victims were 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, who were murdered in an attack which lasted less than 10 minutes.
The hearing continues.