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Londoners united in face of terrorism, says mayor on attack’s fifth anniversary

Victims of the 2017 London Bridge terror attack are being remembered on the fifth anniversary (Yui Mok/PA)
Victims of the 2017 London Bridge terror attack are being remembered on the fifth anniversary (Yui Mok/PA)

London’s mayor has paid tribute to members of the emergency services who “ran towards danger”, as he marked the fifth anniversary of the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

Sadiq Khan said the capital’s residents will “always stand united in the face of terrorism” as he remembered the victims of the atrocity on June 3 2017.

Eight people were killed and 48 more injured when terrorists ploughed into pedestrians in a hired van then ran amok with 12in knives.

Christine Archibald, 30, and Xavier Thomas, 45, died after being struck by the van on the bridge.

Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and James McMullan, 32, were stabbed near the Boro Bistro on the South Bank.

Ignacio Echeverria, 39, died as he tried to protect others from being attacked on nearby Borough High Street.

Ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were confronted in Stoney Street and shot dead by police marksmen.

On Friday morning, Mr Khan tweeted: “Today, London remembers those whose lives were taken during the 2017 London Bridge terror attack. We also pay tribute to the bravery of our emergency services, who ran towards danger whilst helping others to safety.

“Londoners will always stand united in the face of terrorism.”

Counter-terror expert Sir Ivor Roberts said it remains “unclear how much has been learned from this tragedy”.

Sir Ivor, from the Counter Extremism Project, and former head of counter-terrorism in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said the attack could be attributed “in significant part, to the failure of the intelligence community to monitor appropriately subjects of interest”.

In a statement on the anniversary, he said: “The 2017 London Bridge attack can be attributed, in significant part, to the failure of the intelligence community to monitor appropriately subjects of interest.

“The primary perpetrator of the attack, Khuram Shazad Butt, was known to both the police and MI5 from as early as 2015. At that time he was investigated, but the investigation was quickly ‘moved into the lower echelons’ and his file was classed as ‘low priority’.

“While the monitoring of peripheral subjects like Butt can often be a tedious and thankless task, it is also often the difference between life and death. The Government’s subsequent official enquiry into the numerous terrorist attacks which occurred in the UK in 2017 specifically identified this as an area of counter terror policy in need of significant reform.”

Victims of the London Bridge terror attack (top row left to right) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, (bottom row left to right) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Victims of the London Bridge terror attack (top row left to right) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, (bottom row left to right) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He referred to the case of Malik Faisal Akram, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, who carried out an attack on a Texas synagogue in January.

Akram, 44, was shot dead when the FBI entered the place of worship in Colleyville following a 10-hour stand-off.

He held four people hostage during the incident, but they were later released unharmed.

Sir Ivor said: “Despite Akram’s radical views and support of the 9/11 attacks, he had been unsuccessfully referred to Prevent on two separate occasions in 2016 and 2019, MI5 ultimately concluded that he was not a terrorist threat.

“This is a disappointing development from the security services, who do such incredible work on a day-to-day basis to keep us safe. I encourage MI5 to develop new policies and thorough checks and balances to ensure dangerous individuals don’t slip through the cracks again.”

Meanwhile, the Government’s independent adviser for social cohesion and resilience, Dame Sara Khan, said engagement with communities about what the counter-terror strategy is must be done “in a much better way”.

The BBC reported Dame Sara as saying the Government has failed to explain the strategy to Muslim communities, which “in essence… left a vacuum” about the purpose of the scheme to be “dominated” by Islamists.

She told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “So those types of challenges have continued and I think continuing to engage with communities, explaining what the programme is, addressing concerns – that’s got to continue in a much better way than we’ve seen previously.”