A man who drove his car into pedestrians, cyclists and at two police officers, before crashing into a barrier at the Palace of Westminster, has today, Monday 11 October, been given a life sentence following an investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Salih Khater, 30 (26.01.89) of Highgate Street, Birmingham, was previously 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 was sentenced today at the same court. On sentencing, the Judge found that the offence has a ‘terrorist connection’ under section 30 of the Terrorism Act 2008 2008. Khater was sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I am pleased at today’s sentence and that an extremely dangerous individual will be behind bars for a considerable time. This was a man who used his car as a weapon to attempt to kill as many people as possible spreading fear and terror. It was our view that this attack was carried out with a terrorist purpose and the sentence confirms this.
“I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding professionalism and bravery of all the officers who responded to this incident. Armed officers were on the scene within seconds and would not have known what other dangers Khater may have posed. The response of those officers and indeed, all emergency service responders to this incident was truly remarkable.
“My thoughts too are with all the victims of this terrible attack. Many were left with physical and psychological injuries, which are still impacting on their lives today. I only hope that today’s outcome can give them some small comfort.”
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 attack – indiscriminately targeting random members of the public, targeting police officers, and the selection of an iconic site of national importance – an investigation was launched by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (CTC). Detectives gathered several 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. 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, and through the support of the UK’s national Counter Terrorism policing network, searches were carried out at addresses linked to Khater in Birmingham and Nottingham, assisted by colleagues from the East Midlands and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Policing Units. Through fast-time and intensive enquiries detectives were able to establish that there were no other suspects involved and further examination of evidence and intelligence confirmed that there was no outstanding threat to the public.
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.
As part of their investigation, officers carried out a full reconstruction of the path of Khater’s vehicle during the attack. The reconstruction showed how 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 police in confidence on 0800 789 321.