Suspect in Reading terrorist incident named as 25-year-old Libyan national released from prison last year

·4-min read
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre after the incident on Saturday. (PA)

The suspect arrested in connection with a terrorist incident in Reading that saw three people stabbed to death has been named as a Libyan national who had been freed from prison towards the end of last year.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been named as the suspect arrested by Thames Valley Police following the multiple stabbing in Forbury Gardens on Saturday evening.

The PA news agency reported that he had been freed from prison for a non-terror offence towards the end of last year after serving a sentence in excess of 12 months.

A security source told the agency that the suspect is understood to have been granted asylum in the UK and mental health is being considered a major factor in the incident.

On Sunday police investigating the attack declared the rampage a “terrorist incident” and said the investigation was being handed over to a counter-terrorism unit.

Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Road in Reading after the incident at Forbury Gardens. (PA)

On Sunday evening, Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) said the 25-year-old man arrested on Saturday had been been re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000,

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, head of CTPSE, said: “The investigation continues to move at a fast pace.”

She added: “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families who will be mourning loved ones after this horrific act, and to all those who have been affected by it. We continue to work with the coroner to formally identify those who have died and to inform and support their relatives.”

Police have confirmed that they were called to reports of a stabbing at Forbury Gardens in Reading's town centre around 7pm on Saturday.

The suspect was arrested within five minutes of the initial report, and a number of officers were quickly on the scene, they have confirmed.

Several armed officers were then seen going into a block of flats off Basingstoke Road in Reading on Saturday night.

In a short press briefing, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell described the scene of the attack as “horrific”.

He told reporters the first emergency call was made to police at 6.56pm on Saturday and a man was arrested within five minutes of that call.

Deliveroo driver Amir Hadyoon, 31, said he saw the suspect arrested outside the job centre on Friar Street in Reading, a short distance from Forbury Gardens.

He said the suspect was tackled by police, telling reporters: “When he got arrested his hand was full of blood, I could see the blood on his hand.

“He wasn’t resisting or anything, even though there were like four or five police officers on top of him.”

He described the man as being completely silent as he was arrested.

“To me it looked very weird because he didn’t say a word. He didn’t care, he was just staring… he was just completely silent,” he added. “He wasn’t even blinking, he looked really weird.”

Boris Johnson, who has held a meeting with security officials, police and senior ministers over the incident, said he was “appalled and sickened that people should lose their lives in this way and our thoughts are very much with the family and the friends of the victims today”.

He said: “I’ve obviously talked to the chief constable at Thames Valley Police, thanked him and his officers for their bravery in tackling the suspect.

“We now have someone in custody. The police must get on with their job, get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and so it would be difficult really to comment in detail.

“Except to say this, if there are lessons we need to learn about how we handle such cases, how we handle the events leading up to such cases, then we will learn those lessons and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”

The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the attack and police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation.

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