A British man was jailed for life on 14 October for a car ramming incident, which left three people injured. The incident took place in August 2018 near Parliament. The judge said 30-year-old Salih Khater had undoubtedly intented to kill as many people as possible and sentenced the man to a minimum term of 15 years.
Khater, however, was not convicted of terrorism charges, but of attempted murder. The defendant who came from Sudan and was granted asylum in Britain in 2010 and lived in Birmingham at the time of the incident, argues that he drove to London to apply for a Sudanese visa in order to visit his sick mother, got lost in Westminster and panicked, which subsequently resulted in a car crash incident.
"I remember something made me panic.The car was not in my full control at the time", Khater said
His lawyer Peter Qarter insisted there is no evidence that his client had a terrorist motive. Qarter said: “Had there been any connection that he had expressed any interest in or showed any desire to pursue any link to terrorism it would have been before your ladyship".
The lawyer’s arguments did not convince the judge. Justice McGowan found Khater deliberately copied terrorists and noted that even though the defendant acted alone he acted for a terrorist purpose.
After Daesh* started sustaining heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group revamped its strategy. It urged its followers across the world to conduct lone wolf attacks using simple tools – knives, hammers or simply attacking people by running them over. Following the announcement, a wave of terrorist attacks hit Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Britain.
The terrorists who committed attacks on London Bridge and near Westminster in 2017 used secondary weapons – knives. According to witnesses, the attackers in Westminster shouted “this is for Allah”. Khater’s case is different. He stayed in the vehicle, didn’t use secondary weapon and was detained after he crashed into the barriers.
Prosecutors insist that the attack was deliberate and premediated. Khater was captured by CCTV cameras driving around Parliament four times before the incident in what prosecutors argue was reconnaissance. They rejected Khater's claim that he could not control his Ford Fiesta, saying there was no fault with it.
The prosecution also said that Khater displayed signs of paranoia about UK authorities. He sent an email to Jeremy Corbyn’s office where he expressed concern about an “event” involving the country’s intelligence agencies.
His friends were shocked when they learned the news about the 2018 attack. They described Khater as a very good man. His lawyer Peter Qarter said the man was an enigma.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.