Salih Khater Convicted of Attempted Murder in Westminster Attack

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. (Picture: London Metropolitan Police)
London Metropolitan Police

Salih Khater, a 30-year-old refugee from Sudan, was found guilty of two charges of attempted murder after driving his Ford Fiesta at cyclists, a pedestrian, and police officers outside of the Houses of Parliament last year.

A jury at the Old Bailey found Khater guilty on Wednesday, with sentencing set for October 7th. During the trial, the court had seen footage of Khater driving his car into a group of cyclists and a pedestrian at Parliament Square on August 14th, 2018, during morning rush hour.

He then drove through a security lane outside of the Palace of Westminster, missing two police officers who jumped out of the way. No one was killed, with injuries ranging from grazes to a fractured collar bone.

Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said it was the result of “good luck” and the quick reactions of others that no one was killed in the “deliberate attempt to kill and maim as many people as possible”.

Ms Hopkins added that “His driving was so precise and determined that it was difficult for skilled accident investigators to repeat the manoeuvre he carried out.”

Salih was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of attempted murder and two charges of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), all charges he denied. The defendant had claimed that he had just become “lost in London”, something made him “panic”, and in his “confusion” he drove towards the civilians and police officers.

Khater had come to the United Kingdom claiming asylum, alleging that he had been tortured due to his political affiliations in his home country, and was granted refugee status and British citizenship in 2010. The migrant had failed his accountancy exams at Coventry University and had been working as a security guard before the attack.

The jury heard that he had driven to London from Birmingham the night before, allegedly to go the next day to the Sudanese embassy to obtain a visa so that he could visit his sick mother. He arrived in London at around midnight, and CCTV footage show him driving around Parliament Square, checking the layout of the area.

He then spend four and a half hours resting in Windmill Street, Soho, before returning to Parliament Square, where he did another four laps of the area before targetting his victims.

It was also claimed that Salih was showing signs of “paranoia” about the British government before the attack, with the court hearing he had emailed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in May 2018 about an “event” involving the intelligence services.

The case was investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command. A statement from Scotland Yard confirmed that in October the sentencing judge “will also consider whether the offences were committed with a terrorist connection”.

Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Through our investigation, we found that Khater acted completely alone. We made extensive inquiries 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.”

A Whitehall source told The Guardian they are not classing it as a terror attack as no extremist material was found, the insider saying: “He was not known to the security services and there is no indication of an extremist mindset.”

The attack happened close to where radical Islamic terrorist Khalid Masood carried out a vehicular and knife attack on Westminster Bridge and on the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, killing five people including unarmed police officer Keith Palmer, who was on duty at the Palace at the time.

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