The Sudanese refugee being held on suspicion of terror offences after ploughing his Ford Fiesta into the Houses of Parliamenthad only received his British passport two weeks ago, it has emerged.
Friends of Salih Khater, who is still being questioned by counter terrorism police, say that he had finally been issued with the document eight years after first claiming asylum in the UK.
It is now being suggested that Khater was planning to use the opportunity to travel home and see family in Sudan for the first time since fleeing.
Friends say he travelled to London on Monday night in order to attend the Sudanese embassy the next day to obtain a visa to return home.
They now fear he panicked and lost control of his silver Ford Fiesta after seeing an ambulance with blue flashing lights behind him in Parliament Square.
In the wake of his arrest armed police have been deployed to two Birmingham mosques which were attacked with catapults.
Officers were called to the Masjid Qamarul Islam mosque on Fosbrooke Road, Small Heath, at around 10pm on Wednesday and the Al-Hijrah mosque on Hob Moor Road 20 minutes later.
Police are continuing to patrol the area to reassure worshippers and residents.
Anwar Mukhtar who runs a football team for Sudanese migrants and refugees in Birmingham, which Khater joined when he arrived in the Midlands, said: “Salih was a British citizen and received his British passport only two weeks ago, allowing him to travel in and out of the country for the first time since he arrived as a refugee.”
He told friends he missed home and was going to London to get his visa to go back to Sudan and wanted to travel there overnight so he could get to the embassy early and find a parking space.
Mr Mukhtar said: “He missed his family and was looking forward to seeing them, so why would he then stage a terrorist attack? It makes no sense.
“I think he was driving there when saw the ambulance behind him and panicked and couldn’t control the vehicle.”
The basis for Khater being granted asylum in the UK remains unclear, but a picture of his journey from Sudan to Birmingham is emerging.
The 29-year-old, who injured three cyclists when he mounted a pedestrianised section of Parliament Square before ploughing into a security barrier outside the Palace of Westminster, fled Darfur with his family to escape the ethnic persecution which followed civil unrest between rebel groups and the government of Sudan.
The family, members of the Zaghawa Muslim tribe, fled to Wad Madani, a city in eastern Sudan, to escape the strife, but friends in Birmingham said they still faced persecution there.
In around 2008 he left his homeland for Libya, where he worked on a farm for two years before travelling to Italy by boat and making his way through Europe to Britain.
Abubakr Ibrahim, a businessman and Sudanese community leader in Birmingham, said: “Salih wanted to leave Sudan because of the country’s economic problems. There is a desert in the country’s border with Libya. He walked all the way there and stayed in Libya for two years. Later he went to Italy on a boat and from there to France on train. From France also on train, to the UK.”
Mr Mukhtar said: “He came with his little brother, Mohammed Khater. We know that his father died last year. I went to give him my condolences last year because his father and sister died. I read that his brother died, but it was his sister.”
After settling in Birmingham Khater studied English and then a Science diploma at Birmingham’s South and City College. He then started an accountancy degree at Coventry University in September 2017 but failed his first year and was asked to leave in May this year.
Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/16/westminster-terror-suspect-had-received-british-passport-two/