Anorak News | Reading attack: Khairi Saadallah charged with murder

Reading attack: Khairi Saadallah charged with murder

by | 28th, June 2020

Khairi Saadallah has been charged with the murders of James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on 20 June. It’s alleged that Mr Saadallah stabbed the three men to death in Forbury Gardens, Reading. Police have called the attack a terrorist incident. The Crown Prosecution Service says: “The Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised Counter Terrorism Policing South East to charge Khairi Saadallah, 25, with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.” So how is it being reported? A man has been charged so reporting guidelines are firm. The CPS adds:

“Criminal proceedings against Mr Saadallah are now active and he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

The BBC says the attack has been linked to terrorism but fails to mention to which ideology the alleged terrorist might adhere. We know that Saadallah arrived in the UK from Libya in 2012 and was granted asylum in 2018. We also know MI5 suspected he could be thinking of travelling overseas to commit acts of terrorism. The attack was declared as a terrorism incident by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing. But we are not told why he did so.

The BBC tells of a candlelit vigil to the killed. It quotes the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley. “Who knows what they would have achieved in life had they lived to an old age,” he says. “Doubtless they would have achieved many good things that the community is now deprived of benefiting from.” We also hear from Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, a local councillor and the family of one of the victims (all three victims were gay). Not one voice expresses any sense of anger to what the Sun’s headline calls a “bloodbath”.

The Guardian calls it a “knife attack”, which it was, of course. There is no mention of terror in its report. We do hear that two MPs lit candles. And Thames Valley police chief constable John Campbell said the victims were “cared for and comforted by my officers and others who came to help them in in their final moments”. He says Reading should take “pride” in how it had responded. It was a “coming together of a diverse community, joined by the bond of humanity and a shared sense of injustice”. To say nothing of terrorism. Which the report does not. Like the victims, Saadallah also lived in Reading.

As we continue to search for motive, or even speculation as to why he might have done it, the Times tell readers that Saadallah volunteered at a church before “converting” to Christianity. We’re told: “His sister said he was motivated by a wish to ‘marry a British girl’.” We are not told what religion or belief he converted from.

Mr Saadallah, who was referred to the government’s Prevent counter-extremism programme, is understood to have suffered from mental health problems. However, Stewart Johnston, operations manager for the church, said he had not picked up any indications of this.

Mr Saadallah volunteered from June to September 2018 while living in a hostel. “It was unclear that he had any sort of faith,” Mr Johnston said. “He would be stacking chairs, putting chairs out, helping in the kitchen, that sort of thing.”


Friends have said that he drank and smoked cannabis, and showed no Islamist leanings. One said she did not believe he had chosen Christianity for a woman. “I never heard that,” she said. “He converted because he wanted to change his life and get away from the life he was forced to live in his home country.”

Islamism? Is that why the police have linked the alleged murders to terrorism? Why does the Times mention Islamism in its report if the police and CPS have not?

The Mail leads its coverage by telling readers: “Police investigating Reading terror attack charge Libyan refugee, 25, with three counts of murder and three of attempted murder.”


Is the suspect’s refugee status relevant? The Mail presents it as key part of the story. There it is in the headline. The paper mentions that the suspect is a refugee one more time in the story. Is that fair? Is it inviting its readers to guess and form an assumption?

Posted: 28th, June 2020 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink