MI5 watched the London Bridge terror suspects load their van with a large holdall before leaving for their deadly attack, it has been alleged.
Intelligence officers reportedly watched the ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, and his two accomplices load a van on CCTV outside his flat in Barking, east London, just two hours before it was used as a battering ram.
But officers didn’t order police to act because Butt had been downgraded as an MI5 priority and they didn’t realise he was about to carry out an attack.
Intelligence officers reportedly watched the ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, and his two accomplices Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba load a van on CCTV outside his flat in Barking, east London, just two hours before it was used as a battering ram
However on the day of the attack Butt was still the subject of a ‘live investigation’ according to a report by David Anderson QC, the government’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.
In practice, this meant a team from MI5 and Scotland Yard were secretly watching him at key locations such as his flat, informed sources told the Sunday Times.
Anderson appears to suggest this in his report: ‘CCTV footage from Khuram Butt’s home address on the evening of the attack showed footage of Butt getting into a van, hired earlier that day…two males accompanied him.’
Records of the vehicle’s movements indicate that after leaving the flat in Barking, Butt and Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, scouted Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street as possible targets, before striking at London Bridge.
Intelligence officers reportedly watched the terrorists load the white van outside Khuram Butt’s east London flat before it was used as a deadly battering ram on London Bridge
The trio were shot by police after killing eight people in their rampage last summer
Report by the government’s ex-independent reviewer of terrorism legislation
A report by David Anderson QC suggested MI5 had watched the terrorists loading the van and heading to commit the attack.
It said: ‘CCTV footage from Khuram Butt’s home address on the evening of the attack showed footage of Butt getting into a van, hired earlier that day…two males accompanied him.’
On the day of the Butt was still the subject of a ‘live investigation’ meaning it was likely MI5 or Scotland Yard were secretly tracking his movements at key locations.
Butt had been the subject of an MI5 priority investigation from mid-2015 but had been downgraded as he was no longer deemed a priority because MI5 thought he was more likely to travel to Iraq or Syria to join ISIS.
The terrorists ploughed into pedestrians on the bridge before stabbing victims in nearby Borough Market with 12-inch ceramic knives on June 3 last year.
The attack lasted from 10.07 to 10.16pm when the attackers, who killed eight people in total, were shot dead by police at the scene.
Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, and Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, died as a result of the van attack and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, died as a result of the knife attack.
James Hodder, whose girlfriend Kirsty Boden was killed in the attack, vowed to hold MI5 and the police to account for any failings.
He told the Sunday Times: ‘It’s important the authorities know that society, including the victims’ families, will hold them accountable for any errors.’
Butt, a former disciple of the jailed hate preacher Anjem Choudary, was the subject of an MI5 priority investigation from mid-2015, but Redouane and Zaghba had never been investigated by the agency.
Butt had been downgraded as he was no longer deemed a priority because MI5 thought he was more likely to travel to Iraq or Syria to join ISIS.
According to Mr Anderson’s report: ‘MI5 noted his continued extremist rhetoric but also uncertainty about whether he posed a threat to national security.’
(Top row left to right) Canadian Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, chef Sebastien Belanger and (bottom row left to right) Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, Australian Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria died in the attack
Inquests into the attack will take place early next year at the Old Bailey.
A separate jury inquest will follow into the jihadis’ deaths.
A pre-inquest hearing heard the killers had all taken large amounts of steroids before the attack.
The Home Office declined to comment further.