Reading Park Terror: Libyan Refugee Admits to Three Counts of Murder

Police officers congregate outside a cordoned off block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident lived in Reading, west of London, on June 23, 2020. - British counter-terrorism police have been given until June 27 to question a suspect widely identified as Libyan Khairi Saadallah in an …
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah pleaded guilty to murdering three friends during a stabbing spree on innocent people enjoying a summer evening in the Forbury Gardens in Reading, near London.

The 26-year-old Libyan refugee admitted to fatally stabbing James Furlong, David Wails, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, who were sitting together in the park enjoying a drink on June 20th. Saadallah stabbed U.S. citizen Mr Ritchie-Bennett and history teacher Mr Furlong each once in the neck, and stabbed Mr Wails, a scientist, in the back. The three men, all reportedly part of the local LGBT community, died at the scene.

Saadallah also admitted to three charges of attempted murder against the three men’s friend, Stephen Young, and Nishit Nisudan and Patrick Edwards, according to the BBC. He had stabbed the three other men who were sitting in a nearby group, leaving them seriously injured. The attack, committed with a large kitchen knife, lasted two minutes. The park had been full at the time with other people, including families. It was declared a “terrorist incident” within hours of the attack.

The Libyan was supposed to begin trial on November 30th, after being charged on June 27th with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, but made the admissions at a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday. He had admitted to the charges of murder and attempted murder but denied, as per the prosecution’s cases, that he had planned the attack and was motivated by terrorism.

Prosecutor Jan Newbold had told the court during a hearing two days after charged were laid that Saadallah “was heard to shout words to the effect of ‘Allahu Akbar’” at the time of the attack, suggesting an Islamist terrorist motive.

Saadallah came to the UK as an illegal alien in 2012 and was granted asylum in 2018. The Telegraph reports that MI5 had put the refugee on their “radar” a year before the attack over the suspicion that he wanted to travel to his home country to join a jihadist organisation, but the file was closed after two months. The newspaper also reports that Saadallah had been released early from prison at the time of the attack, after having served part of a sentence for non-terror-related crimes.

The refugee’s hearing will take place on December 7th, where it will be determined whether Islamist ideology was a motivating factor.

Saadallah was not the first Libyan migrant to commit carnage in Britain in recent years, with Manchester Arena attacker Salman Abedi, who killed 22 and injured hundreds of others during a suicide attack, having been the son of Libyan refugees. The Parsons Green tube bomber, Ahmed Hassan, was also a recently-arrived asylum seeker from Iraq.

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