Pakistan-born British citizen Khuram Butt, the London Bridge attack ringleader, had been trying to get a job with a security firm that provides stewards for Wimbledon and other sporting events, raising concerns whether he had considered targeting the prestigious tennis tournament. Security services and counter-terrorism police are now investigating 27-year-old Butt’s motive in trying to get the job with the security company, the Telegraph reported today. Citing well-placed sources, the paper said that Butt had set up the job interview with the security firm that supplies safety stewards to Wimbledon and to Premier League football clubs. The interview was scheduled to take place at the end of this month.
“One possibility is Butt had considered targeting the tennis tournament but decided to speed up the plot, following the Manchester Arena bombing, and switched the attack to London Bridge,” the paper said. Butt had previously worked for six months on the London Underground until quitting in October. Although he was under lowlevel investigation by MI5 and counterterrorism police, Butt was able to get a job working at Westminster station because employers are not made aware of security services’ concerns when performing criminal records checks, the paper said.
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“The security firm would check his background but it does not have access to the police watch list or have knowledge of any MI5 investigation. There would have been no reason for him not to get the job. Butt could not only have caused serious damage but potentially helped other terrorists to get into one of these events,” the paper said, quoting a source close to the intelligence services. Butt and his aides Moroccan-origin Rachid Redouane and Moroccon-Italian Yousef Zaghba rammed a high-speed van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing revellers at the nearby Borough Market, killing eight people before being shot dead by armed police officers last week.
Scotland Yard last night released photographs of the fake suicide belts Butt, Redouane and Zaghba wore during the attack. The trio had attached water bottles to leather belts and covered them in silver masking tape. The belts were still being worn by them when they were shot dead by armed officers. “It is hard to speculate what the motive was for wearing the belts. It could be that they had plans to take the attack in to a siege situation or it might be that they saw it as protection from being shot themselves,” said Commander Dean Haydon, who is leading the investigation.