The terror suspect accused of stabbing three people to death in Reading is believed to be a Libyan refugee who was released from prison just two weeks ago and was previously known to MI5.
Last October, Khairi Saadallah, 25, was sentenced to 28 months for breaching a suspended jail term, racially aggravated assault, criminal damage and affray.
He was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 16 days ago after less than half of his sentence.
Saadallah was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and delusional and paranoid schizophrenia, requiring medication before his release, a source told the Sun.
Anti-terror police believe he stopped using his medication in the lead-up to Saturday’s horrific rampage.
He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland because he ‘liked to drink’ and didn’t lead a ‘strict religious life’.
However, once in the UK, he ended up in prison after committing several violent, non-terror offences. He is even thought to have converted to Christianity and has a tattoo of a cross on his arm.
Saadallah is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year, after they suspected he was planning to travel to Syria for ‘extremist reasons’.
He allegedly claimed to have fought both for and against ISIS, though officials assessing him found he didn’t subscribe to any ideology or belief system and instead had mental health issues.
An investigation revealed no immediate risk or threat and he was not under surveillance at the time of his alleged rampage.
Despite his violent convictions, he is thought to have avoided deportation because of the UK policy not to deport foreign nationals to ‘failed states’ like Libya.
Saadallah boasted to friends in the UK that he had fought as a child soldier against the forces of former Libya leader Colonel Gaddafi – which he said had forced him to flee the country.
However, his cousin disputed these claims and said Saadallah had fled to avoid conflict.
She added that he heard voices and had psychotic episodes which left him thinking he was being followed.
The 25-year-old, who has been named as Khairi Saadallah, was previously jailed for a minor non-terror offence, reports indicate
He is thought to have come to the UK from Libya as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum as he was at risk from Islamic extremists in his homeland
Saadallah, pictured smoking cannabis, is also believed to have come to the attention of MI5 last year
Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of Reading
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday
Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured
Foreign nationals who are convicted of criminal offences can be deported under the UK Borders Act 2007 if certain conditions are met.
The offender must be convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and sentenced to a prison term of 12 months or more.
In 2018, however, Saadallah was granted leave to remain in the UK for five years despite the convictions for violence.
A source told the Sun: ‘Saadallah was on MI5’s radar for a few months last year over his aspirations to travel to Syria.
‘He had a history of violence and serious mental health problems so why was he granted leave to remain at all? There are major questions to be answered.’
His cousin in Libya said: ‘I can’t believe he’d do anything like this or be involved in anything to do with terrorism. He was at risk of extremists in Libya because he liked to drink and socialise and didn’t lead a strict religious life at all.
‘He started going to church and had tattoos all over his body including one of a cross on his arm. He did get in trouble in England and could be aggressive but I can’t ever imagine him getting drawn into something as serious as this.’
Among his other offences, in March 2019 Saadallah spat at Judge Sophie Toms at Reading magistrates court as she sentenced him for previous offences.
He has also been convicted of possession of a bladed weapon and assaulting a police officer, which landed him an eight-month jail term.
He threatened a Sainsbury’s guard with a broken bottle of wine when challenged for stealing it.
Saadallah was given tough licence conditions after his release from prison, but lockdown-hit probation and social services struggled to monitor him.
A source said: ‘The motivation remains unclear. His issues mean any trigger could have been very quick.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was ‘deeply concerned’ by the incident in Reading
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the ‘appalling’ attack and thanked the emergency services
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as ‘very concerning’
Three people were killed and another three were injured in the attack on Saturday evening.
The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved. Police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation, Mr Basu said.
Lawrence Wort, 20, who said he was around 10 metres from the attack, said the attacker ‘shouted unintelligible words’ before attacking multiple groups of people, adding: ‘when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.’
South Central Ambulance Service said five ambulance crews as well as two air ambulance services were among the resources sent to treat the casualties.
Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related
Pictured: Counter-terror offices raiding a flat around a mile from the park on June 21
One of the patients admitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital has been discharged while another remains in a stable condition under observation, a spokeswoman has said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the ‘senseless attack’ while Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene.’
The Prime Minister has held a meeting with security officials, police and senior ministers over the incident.