The terror suspect who was apprehended carrying knives near Downing Street is a former “humanitarian activist” who took part in an ‘aid convoy’ to the Gaza.
Khalid Mohamed Omar Ali, 27, a British national born overseas, was stopped by police in Whitehall on the corner of Parliament Street and Parliament Square on Thursday and was found to be carrying three knives in his rucksack.
The Times reports that in 2010, Ali was amongst a group of British and Irish humanitarian activists who travelled to Gaza in an aid convoy to deliver supplies to the Palestinian territory. Known as the Road to Hope convoy, the group set off in October and travelled through Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya to reach Gaza.
The terror suspect was named in news reports at the time when the group and its vehicles were allegedly refused permission to leave a Greek ship following a dispute over payment. The ship was taken to Piraeus, a port near Athens, where she was boarded by Greek commandos. The convoy was later released and continued on to Gaza.
In a video that emerged from the convoy, as reported in The Telegraph, Ali can be seen sitting in the front of a van with a Palestinian banner tied around his head.
“We are all getting together now, alhamdulillah, the vans are all done, energy is here, the sunshine is here, alhamdulillah [praise god],” he said.
“You are going to see in action – the youth – doing our thing, all day long. We did it in Tottenham, we are going to do it in Gaza; taking it to another level. One love.”
Ali, who grew up in Tottenham, North London, had been under surveillance as a subject of an anti-terror investigation. It is believed police received a tip-off from his family, who had been concerned by his recent behaviour.
Security sources said Friday the operation had been controlled and officers had moved in at the right time to prevent an attack and to secure evidence. Scotland Yard confirmed there was “no immediate known threat”.
A senior police source said: “He was being watched very closely. He had been travelling on the London Underground and we understand he had exited the Tube at St James’s Park station before walking in the direction of Whitehall and Number 10.
“At some stage an alert went out to all the teams in the area and the order was made to pick him up.”