‘Diversity is a strength’: Sadiq Khan responds to Buffalo shooter’s threats

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<span>Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA</span>
Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

London mayor, who was named in suspect’s 180-page ‘manifesto’, says he will not let terrorists change how he lives


The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, vowed he would not allow threats from “terrorists” such as the alleged Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron to change the way he leads his life after reportedly being named on a list of enemies the suspect said he wanted dead.

Gendron, 18, is accused of shooting dead 10 people at a supermarket in the US city on Saturday.

Khan was reportedly described as a “Muslim invader” under a page entitled “kill high-profile enemies” in a 180-page “manifesto” published online by Gendron.

Khan told the Guardian: “My heart goes out to those 10 families who are grieving. We know white supremacist terrorists want to divide communities, make us cower, make us not lead the pluralistic lives we lead. Diversity is a strength and I’m not going to allow terrorists like this man to change the way I lead my life.

“But it’s really important that we as a city recognise that because of our pluralism, our diversity, our values we are a target for terrorists, in Buffalo or London – we’ve got to be vigilant, never complacent.”

Asked if he felt safe in his role, Khan told the PA Media news agency: “It’s been on public record that I receive police protection. It’s unfortunate but it’s a fact of me being mayor. I’ve been incredibly safe because I’m looked after by dedicated, decent brave police officers.”

In the “manifesto”, Khan is one of three high-profile men on the list, the other two being the businessman and philanthropist George Soros, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Elsewhere Gendron reportedly provided links to UK criminal cases including the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, and other cases including in Keighley, Rochdale, Peterborough and Telford.

Responding to the shootings, Khan tweeted: “The thoughts and prayers of London are with the people of Buffalo and all the families who have lost loved ones in this dreadful attack. Our diversity is our strength. Hate will never win.”

It is not the first time Rotherham and the London mayor have been cited in an attack. The rightwing Finsbury Park terrorist, Darren Osborne, jailed for 43 years for his murderous attack on Muslims at the north London mosque in London in 2017 when he drove a van into the crowd, referenced the Rotherham scandal, where defendants were mainly from Pakistani, and therefore Muslim, backgrounds. The note also railed against Khan. Brenton Tarrant, convicted of the 2019 Christchurch mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand in which 51 people were killed, also named Khan in a 74-page manifesto.

Related: How London mosque attacker became a terrorist in three weeks

Khan already had round-the-clock close protection security from a team of about 15 specially trained officers and leaves home only with an armed guard. All his journeys have to be planned and agreed with police.

He is the first London mayor to receive such intense security and has been a long-term hate figure for the extreme right.

Sources with knowledge of his security arrangements said there had been no change since this weekend, in part because his security was already at a high level.

Khan was first elected in 2016, and soon afterwards the Home Office ministerial liaison unit assessed him as facing sufficient threat to require armed protection from the police.

Spats with the US president, Donald Trump, raised Khan’s profile, as did the terror attacks in 2017 on London, when Khan’s media profile increased.

Having refused close protection security in 2016, he accepted it in 2017 as the scale of the threat kept escalating. There are also security measures at his home.

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