Pak-origin London Attacker Planned to Hire Massive Truck, But Payment Failed
Floral tributes are seen near the scene of the attack at London Bridge and Borough Market in central London on June 7, 2017. (Reuters)
London: Had the Pakistani-origin London Bridge attacker succeeded in hiring a 7.5 tonne truck, the number of casualties in the carnage would have been much higher, the British media reported on Saturday.
Ringleader Khuram Shazad Butt's efforts to hire the bigger truck failed when his payment was declined, the BBC reported.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the UK capital's counter-terrorism unit, also revealed that the men had a stockpile of petrol bombs in the back of their van and carried out their deadly attack with pink ceramic knives. Officers also discovered a Quran in their safe house, opened at a page on martyrdom.
"Getting hold of a 7.5-tonne lorry - the effects could have been even worse," Haydon told reporters.
Butt, 27, had ganged up with two other accomplices to carry out the terror attack on June 3 that killed eight people and injured nearly 50. They tried to hire a seven-and-a-half tonne lorry to carry out their attack but failed to provide payment details and the vehicle was not picked up, prompting them to use a smaller van from a DIY store instead, the report said.
The truck they had wanted to hire was smaller but similar to the one used in last year's Nice attack in which more than 80 people were killed in France. The three terrorists had tied 12 inch (30cm) pink ceramic knives to their wrists and had petrol bombs in the van, it said.
Butt drove the van into pedestrians on the iconic bridge. He then went on a stabbing spree along with Rachid Redouane, 30, of Moroccan and Libyan descent and Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba, 22, in Borough Market.
The trio were shot dead by the police.
The Metropolitan Police said the men had rented a flat in Barking to use it as a safe house.
Butt hired the van used in the attack from a B&Q store in Romford in the morning of the attack, it said.
On June 3, the van crossed London Bridge heading south. Six minutes later it returned, crossing over the bridge again and making a U-turn at the northern end, the report said.
The attack began with the van driving back along the pavements of the bridge, running down three pedestrians before crashing outside the Barrowboy and Banker pub opposite London Bridge station, it said.
They stabbed five people who had been enjoying the area's pubs and restaurants.
In the back of the white Renault van used in the attack officers found wine bottles filled with a flammable liquid with rags tied to their necks, the report said.
There were blow torches for lighting these "Molotov cocktails". They had added bags of building gravel and several chairs possibly to suggest a reason for having hired the van.
The massive police probe into the attack continues and by Saturday, 20 arrests have been made and 13 buildings searched.
So far, 282 witnesses from 19 countries have been questioned but police still want more people who saw what happened to come forward.
Police are also appealing for information about the "distinctive" pink "Ernesto" brand knives the men were carrying. They said they had not found evidence of anyone else being involved in the plot — or inspiring the attackers to carry it out.
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