Terrorists can work at airports without MI5 being tipped off
TERROR suspects can still land jobs at airports and major railway hubs without police or MI5 being tipped off, a court heard yesterday.
Khuram Butt worked on the Tube (Image: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Even potential jihadists seen as "high-risk" and under investigation could slip through the net. Khuram Butt was under investigation by Scotland Yard and the security services when he was recruited by Transport for London in May 2016. The inquest into the London Bridge atrocity heard that Butt, 27, was allowed to work at various Tube stations including Westminster, near Parliament. At the time, he was the target of a joint police/MI5 probe as a "high-risk" terror suspect.
The security loophole emerged as a senior MI5 officer, known as Witness L, gave evidence. The officer agreed when Gareth Patterson, QC, representing the families of six victims, said: "Would you agree that risks are being taken if terror suspects are being permitted to hold down jobs where the transport infrastructure is vulnerable?" Speaking from behind a screen at the Old Bailey, Witness L also accepted Mr Patterson's question: "Is the position that to this day, people can still be terror suspects and start working at these sorts of locations without you or the counter-terrorism police being notified of it?" The officer said there was no evidence that Butt took the job for "nefarious purposes".
MI5 launched an investigation into Butt in 2015 after intelligence said he was linked to terror but the probe was suspended twice - once in February 2016 after attacks in Paris and again after the Westminster Bridge atrocity in March 2017.
MI5 was initially unaware Butt was regularly going to a gym run by a notorious terrorist suspect while on sick leave.
Butt's accomplices Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, also went to the gym in Ilford, east London. But Witness L said training at a gym was not a risk factor in itself.
Butt was still under investigation when he led the attack in June 2017 which claimed eight innocent lives.
The MI5 probe was being wound down and his movements or calls not being monitored in the days leading up to the outrage. The inquest continues.