A man who drove his car into pedestrians and cyclists, and at two police officers, before crashing into a barrier at the Palace of Westminster, has been convicted of attempted murder following an investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Salih Khater, 30 (26.01.89) of Highgate Street, Birmingham, was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, 17 July of two counts of attempted murder relating to the members of the public and the police officers respectively.
He is due to be sentenced at the same court, on the week commencing Monday, 7 October, where the Judge will also consider whether the offences were committed with a terrorist connection - as defined by section 30 of the Terrorism Act 2008.
Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Salih Khater carried out an appalling act to deliberately target both members of the public and police officers, trying to kill and injure them.
“My thoughts are with the victims and I hope today’s verdict means those affected can begin to put the ordeal behind them.
“Through our investigation, we found that Khater acted completely alone. We made extensive enquiries and searched his address and his digital devices, seeking evidence that could explain why he did this.
“Khater remained silent throughout our investigation and only at his trial offered the implausible explanation that it was an accident. However, the evidence showed otherwise and he now faces a considerable time in prison.”
On 14 August 2018, at around 07:40hrs, Khater drove the wrong way along Abingdon Street into cyclists and pedestrians before driving directly at two uniformed police officers positioned at the security barrier at the Palace of Westminster.
Due to the style of his apparent attack – indiscriminately targeting random members of the public, determined endeavours to kill police officers, and his selection of an iconic site of national importance, an investigation was launched by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (CTC). Detectives gathered more than seven hours of CCTV footage which showed Khater’s movements from when he arrived in London from Birmingham just after midnight on 14 August 2018.
Khater initially parked his silver Ford Fiesta in Tottenham Court Road and remained there for a number of hours. By 06:10hrs, he had left Tottenham Court and headed towards Westminster where he carried what officers believe was reconnaissance. He drove slowly up and down Parliament and around Parliament Square, tracing his subsequent attack route. At 06:16hrs, he parked in Great Peter Street, walked towards Millbank and looked towards Parliament.
Around 07:37hrs, Khater drove three times around Parliament Square. On his fourth time, he suddenly veered off at speed, driving at opposing traffic on Abingdon Street, outside the Houses of Parliament. He first struck a jogger crossing the road and left him lying on the floor with soft tissue injuries, abrasions and heavy bruising. He then drove into, and through the middle of, 14 cyclists, striking some and causing others to fall to the ground. Six of them received injuries, including a broken collar bone and bruising.
Khater then swerved across the central traffic island towards the Palace of Westminster and accelerated directly at two uniformed police officers positioned inside the Palace’s security barrier. Both officers only just managed to leap clear and avoid being struck as the car collided into the barrier.
Armed officers rapidly moved in and arrested Khater on suspicion of terrorist offences.
A search of the vehicle did not find any other weapons. Khater was taken to a south London police station and gave a no comment interview throughout.
As part of their enquiries, Counter Terrorism detectives searched addresses linked to Khater in Birmingham and Nottingham, supported by colleagues from the East Midlands and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Policing Units. They quickly ascertained that there were no other suspects involved and that there was no intelligence of further danger to Londoners or the rest of the UK in connection with this incident.
Interrogating Khater’s mobile phone usage, detectives found that on 13 August 2018, he researched the locations of the Croydon UKBA Courier Service on Broadway, London; 10 Downing Street; and the general areas of Croydon and Westminster.
A full reconstruction of Khater’s actions was carried out, which demonstrated that his actions were deliberate and in no way an accident; showing how he would have had to purposefully steer and change gear in the execution of his offence. A traffic report also detailed speed and distance and confirmed that the car was fully functional.
Khater was subsequently charged with the attempted murder of members of the public, and with the attempted murder of police officers and convicted as above.
Any suspicious behaviour or activity can be reported via the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) website at www.gov.uk/ACT or alternatively, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline in confidence on 0800 789 321.