London Bridge attack suspect 'invited neighbours to barbecue’ days before atrocity

Neighbours said the suspect played football with children on the street and helped with their shopping 

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The Independent Online

A man suspected of carrying out the London Bridge terrorist attack invited neighbours to a barbecue the week before joining two other men to commit mass murder.

The alleged suspect, who has not been officially identified, reportedly lived in Barking and was liked within his community.

Neighbours around the block of flats where he lived said they were shocked that a “really nice guy” who often hosted barbecues, played football with children in the street and helped people with their shopping could commit such an atrocity.

He reportedly had a wife and two young children.

“Last week he called for a barbecue and invited all of us. [I’ve been] thinking, was this a send-off?” neighbour Ramou Grant told Good Morning Britain.

“There was no sign at all that he was going to do such a madness thing like this,” said neighbour Jibril Palomba.

Neighbour Ken Chigbo also said he had also been invited to a barbecue and said the suspect was “really sociable”, and Salam Khanum, also from the same building, said he saw the suspect on several occasions with his toddler.

The suspect asked Mr Chigbo how he could rent a van, which the suspect and the two other men rammed into revellers in the London Bridge area before fleeing the vehicle and randomly "stabbing anyone they saw", according to a witness.

London terror attack: Everything we know so far

The suspect was also seen on a Channel 4 documentary about British extremists, praying to a black flag associated with Islamist groups in a London park. 

The Arsenal football shirt he had been seen wearing around his neighbourhood the day of the attack matched a shirt worn by one of the suspects, who was pictured lying on the ground after the attack, fake gas canisters strapped to his torso.

Police arrested 12 people during a raid on a block of flats in Barking early on Sunday morning, and also carried out raids in East Ham and Dagenham.

The suspect in the block of flats was one of three men who allegedly carried out the attack on a busy and popular part of central London on Saturday evening, injuring 47 people. More than 20 of those people remain in a critical condition, according to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

The three suspects were shot dead by the police within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services.

The attack came just a week after 22 people were killed in an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device in the foyer between the arena and Victoria Station after the concert had ended, also killing himself in the attack.

After the London Bridge incident, Prime Minister Theresa May promised to regulate internet activity to combat growing extremism online. She stressed the need for “frankly embarrassing conversations” and hinted at Muslim communities in the UK who had failed to “integrate”.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “We need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia & other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.”

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley was grilled about why the Conservatives had cut 20,000 police officers and armed police since 2010, and she responded the police told her they had "what they need" to combat terrorism.

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