Forbury Gardens in central Reading became the scene of a terror attack on Saturday. A 25-year-old man identified as Libyan refugee Khairi Saadallah was arrested as the sole suspect. Saadallah had been on MI5's radar since 2019, after he showed interest in travelling to Syria. He had been serving a prison sentence since last year for violent crimes, only to be released just weeks before the stabbing spree.
After the attack in Forbury Gardens on Saturday, the police arrested the suspect who is believed to be the only person involved in the terror attack. Saadallah was first arrested on suspicion of murder. Counter-Terrorism Policing South East later confirmed that the knifeman was rearrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Following the attack, police blocked off and searched the flat in Basingstoke Road, near Forbury Gardens where the suspect had been living. The floor was cordoned off as a crime scene after an explosion in the building.
Even though the police have not officially confirmed the identity of the perpetrator, it is widely believed that Saadallah planned and executed the attack alone. According to The Sun, Saadallah was a child soldier who had fought to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi. He reportedly fled the country since he did not want to be in the army.
Saadallah entered the United Kingdom illegally in 2012. In 2018, he was officially granted five years of asylum in the UK. Friends and family claimed that Saadallah was not a religious man and his life was at risk due to his westernised lifestyle. They claim that Saadallah had converted to Christianity after he started dating a British woman. Even though a friend claimed that he bragged about being a child soldier, he suffered from the post-traumatic stress disorder. Saadallah had been taking medication for his mental health issues, which may have included personality disorder.
In March 2019, Saadallah was sentenced to eight months in prison for violent crimes and possession of a bladed weapon. The same year in October, he was sentenced to 28 months and 20 days in prison for breaching his suspended jail term along with other charges. He was released from HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire after serving his reduced sentence of 17 months and 20 days. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, probation and social services were unable to monitor him strictly.
In 2019 the MI5 also put him on a list of suspects planning to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria. However, there was not enough proof to consider Saadallah a threat so no further investigation was conducted.
Even with his criminal record, Saadallah was not deported to Libya as human rights laws prevent the deportation of criminals to failed states.