Suspect known to MI5 held over terror knife attack in park that killed three

A terror suspect held over the knife attack in a Reading park that killed three people came to the attention of MI5 last year, security sources have said.

The 25-year-old man, understood to be named Khairi Saadallah, was detained a short distance from the scene at Forbury Gardens and arrested on suspicion of murder.

He was later re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, which gives police the power to detain him without charge for up to 14 days.

School teacher James Furlong, 36, is the only victim to be named so far.

Two other people injured in the attack remain in hospital, while one has now been discharged.

It emerged on Sunday the suspect, a refugee of the civil war in Libya, briefly came to the attention of MI5 last year, but the information provided did not meet the threshold of investigation.

PA understands from security sources that M15 had received intelligence he planned to travel abroad, possibly for terrorism purposes, but the threat was found to be insubstantial.

As counter-terror officers investigate, mental health is understood to be considered a major factor in the latest incident.

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A police officer standing guard on Sunday outside the corridor of a top-floor flat in Basingstoke Road, Reading, where the suspect in the Forbury Gardens stabbings was detained. The suspect in the Reading stabbings is a Libyan asylum seeker and mental health is being considered a major factor in the incident, a security source has told the PA news agency.
A woman places some flowers 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 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.
A message left on some flowers 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 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 near an entrance to 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.
Flowers and a message left 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 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.
Forensic officers at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Emergency services at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Emergency services at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police near Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
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 Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
An armed police officer at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
TOPSHOT - Floral tributes are seen at a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020 following a fatal stabbing incident the previous day. - British police said Sunday they were treating a stabbing spree in which a lone assailant killed three people in a park filled with families and friends in the southern English city of Reading as a "terrorism incident". (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: A view of the outside of the top floor of a block of flats on the Basingstoke Road on June 21, 2020 in Reading, England. A lone attacker targeted groups of people socialising in Forbury Gardens stabbing them in the neck in what police are treating as a terror incident. Three people have died and three more who were injured are in a serious condition. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTSPE) raided a block of flats in the city last night. A 25-year-old male Libyan National is in police custody. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Police officers secure a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020 following a stabbing incident the previous day. - British police said Sunday they were keeping an open mind about what prompted a lone suspect to stab three people to death in a park filled with families and friends relaxing in the southern English city of Reading. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Flowers are left at an entrance to Forbury Gardens for the victims of the stabbing attack on June 21, 2020 in Reading, England. A lone attacker targeted groups of people socialising in Forbury Gardens stabbing them in the neck in what police are treating as a terror incident. Three people have died and three more injured and are in serious condition. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTSPE) raided a block of flats in the city last night. A 25-year-old male Libyan National is in police custody. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Forensic officers at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident" (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "appalled and sickened" by the incident and said "we will not hesitate to take action" if there are lessons to be learned from the circumstances.

The suspect was jailed in October for a complex series of non-terror offences before his sentence was reduced to one of 17 months and 20 days' imprisonment in the Court of Appeal.

One of the appeal judges who gave the judgment in March, Mr Justice Goss, noted Saadallah's various mental health issues in reducing the sentence.

Saadallah was released from prison earlier this month, it is understood, and the Covid-19 pandemic played no part in the decision to free him.

The Sun reported that he left HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire, 17 days ago after less than half of his sentence.

Tributes from former students of Mr Furlong poured in after a letter from the two co-head teachers at his school – the Holt School in Wokingham – announcing his death was circulated online.

His parents, Gary and Janet, said in a statement: "He was the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for.

"We are thankful for the memories he gave us all. We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever."

Forbury Gardens incident
History teacher James Furlong was one of those killed in the attack (Furlong family)

Security guard Sydney McDonald, 65, who saw suspect being rugby-tackled to the ground by police described how it looked as if he had put his hands "in a big bucket of red paint".

He told the PA news agency: "I had just finished work at about 7.10pm and as soon as I came out of the shop, there were about four police cars, they turned around in the middle of the road, they were driving pretty fast.

"There was a guy and I saw him pointing to a man and saying 'There he is, there he is'. If he hadn't, they would have missed him. He was running really fast, properly fast.

"They put the emergency brakes on, jumped out of the car and rugby-tackled him to the floor. He was on his stomach and the blood on his hands looked like he had put his hand in a big bucket of red paint.

"They put the handcuffs on, he wasn't putting up a fight or anything like that, they picked him up and put him in the van, he just sat there all quiet, he wasn't saying nothing."

POLICE Reading
(PA Graphics)

Personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, who said he was around 10 metres from the incident, told PA on Saturday night the suspect was alone and "shouted some unintelligible words" before launching the attack.

"He went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them," he said.

"He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running."

Thames Valley Police have pleaded with the public not to share any pictures or images of the killings on social media, and instead contact them on 101, or upload the footage to UKPoliceImageAppeal.co.uk.

Despite treating the incident as a terror attack, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said on Sunday the motive is still "far from certain".

Mr Basu said there was no evidence to suggest anyone attending crowded places is at risk, but asked people to "be alert, not alarmed, when you are in public".

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