The brother of one of the three terrorists responsible for the London Bridge terror attack earlier this week was part of a government program intended to combat extremism, and received state funding.
According to a report by The Times, Saad Butt, 29, the brother of Khuram Shazad Butt, who was among three terrorists who stabbed pedestrians, received funding from UK police as part of his involvement in the government’s Prevent program, which is designed to support people at risk of joining extremist groups and carrying out terrorist activities.
The paper reports that Butt was one of 23 members of the Young Muslims Advisory Group (YMAG) set up by then-Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and then-Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls in an effort for the Labour government to “engage” with young Muslims after the 7/7 London bombings.
Saad had applied for the role in 2009 and passed through background security checks.
Along with the other members, Saad Butt met the two ministers every three months to be a “critical friend” to the government, and contributed to a report published by the Office of Public Management called It’s a Two-Way Thing — Improving Communication Between Young People and Government in 2010.
When the coalition government cut funding to the organization, a company was set up to complete research it was carrying out for the Association of Chief Police Officers (now the National Police Chiefs’ Council) on young Muslims’ “disaffection” with the police. The company was registered to Saad Butt’s family home near Forest Gate.
Former member of YMAG Waliur Rahman, 32, said Saad Butt “was very engaged in the whole concept of Prevent”, and told The Times that though the organization’s advisor positions were voluntary, Mr. Butt and another colleague were paid “under £10,000” by the Association of Chief Police Officers in order to finish the research.
The news of a member of Khuram Shazad Butt’s family working closely with the government and police has prompted questions as to how authorities missed the terrorist’s plans.
On Saturday night Butt, along with Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, ran down pedestrians on London Bridge and proceeded to stab people indiscriminately in the nearby Borough Market area before all three attackers were shot dead by police. Seven people died and over fifty hospitalized.
London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said Khuram was known to police and MI5. He also confirmed the Met had received a call to a hotline about Butt’s extremism a few months after an investigation was launched into him which was later dropped.
The assistant commissioner defended the decision, saying there was “no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned”.
Khuram Butt was a supporter of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, founded by Anjem Choudary who is currently in jail for pledging support for Islamic State, and attended a demonstration led by Choudary in support of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killer.
Last year, Butt was featured in a Channel 4 documentary about British-based Islamists titled The Jihadis Next Door.
Both brothers were born in Pakistan and came to Britain as asylum seekers with their parents.