LONDON, Aug 15, (Agencies): Detectives searched several properties as they built up a profile Wednesday of a Sudanborn man who crashed a car outside Britain’s Parliament in what police are treating as an act of terrorism.
Police are trying to determine what was in the mind of 29-year-old Salih Khater when he plowed a car into cyclists and pedestrians, injuring three, before smashing into a security barrier. Khater, a British citizen of Sudanese origin, was arrested at the scene of Tuesday’s crash on suspicion of “the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism,” police said.
Police said later he was also suspected of attempted murder. British authorities do not name suspects until they are charged but media and neighbors said the arrested man was Khater. Police confirmed the suspect was a 29-year-old British man originally from Sudan.
They said he was not previously known to counterterrorism officers or the intelligence services. Police said they had finished searching an apartment where the suspect had lived in the property in the city and a third in Nottingham, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. They continued to search a third property in Birmingham, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London. A Facebook page for a man of the same name says he lives in Birmingham, works as a shop manager, and has studied at Sudan University of Science and Technology.
Coventry University in central England said Khater had studied accounting there between September 2017 and May 2018 but had failed his first-year studies and was no longer enrolled. Ahmed Abdi, a neighbor of Khater in Birmingham, said he recognized him from news footage, “and I was shocked.” “He was very, very quiet and he never spoke to anybody. He would say nothing to nobody,” Abdi said. The suspect was being held at a London police station as detectives traced the movements of the Ford Fiesta which careered across a road, hitting cyclists and pedestrians, then crashed into a security barrier at Parliament.
Three people were injured, but none remains in hospital. Detectives say the car was driven from Birmingham to London late Monday, and drove around the area near Parliament for an hour and a half on Tuesday morning before the rushhour crash.