A terror suspect accused of stabbing three people to death and seriously injuring three others in an attack in Reading fled Libya seven years ago and was granted refugee status in the UK because he feared Islamists, and later converted to Christianity, MailOnline can reveal.
A relative of Khairi Saadallah, 25, says the terror suspect arrived in the UK as a tourist in 2012 before claiming asylum because he was at risk from Islamic extremists due to him not leading a ‘strict religious life’ in Libya.
He then converted to Christianity three years ago, according to his cousin, and is said to have a tattoo of a cross on one of his arms.
Speaking after the attack, which took place in Forbury Gardens, Reading, on Saturday evening, the cousin, who lives in Libya and did not want to be named, said: ‘I cannot believe this. I can’t believe he’d do anything like this or be involved in anything to do with terrorism.
‘Khairi had been to the UK a number of times but at the end of 2012 he travelled there as a tourist and decided to stay and claim asylum.
‘He was at risk of extremists in Libya because he liked to drink and socialise and didn’t really lead a strict religious life at all.
‘He did get in trouble in England and could be aggressive but I can’t ever imagine him getting drawn into something as serious as this.’
Speaking about his conversion to Christianity, the cousin said: ‘It might have been why about two or three years ago, he converted from Islam to Christianity.
‘He started going to church and had tattoos all over his body including one of a cross on his arm. I haven’t had contact with him since that time.
‘He lived in Manchester first and now lives in Reading. I think the authorities in Britain have tried to send him back to Libya but he doesn’t want to go back. He’s been in the UK for about seven years so is practically British now.’
Earlier today it was revealed the 25-year-old has previously been jailed for minor non-terror related offences, according to reports.
The revelation came as counter-terrorism police declared yesterday’s attack in Reading as a ‘terrorist incident’.
Counter-terrorism police will take over the investigation after the frenzied knife attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of the Berkshire town.
It comes after witnesses said an attacker with a ‘five inch knife’ targeted and stabbed people ‘at random’ before being ‘rugby-tackled’ to the ground by one unarmed police officer.
One witness said the attacker pulled a knife and ‘shouted some unintelligible words’ before trying to stab people in the packed park, which was said to be filled with families and young children at the time.
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