UK

London Bridge inquest: Attacker's widow 'will not grieve for him'

Khuram Butt Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Khuram Butt booked a trip to Turkey, but his wife told an inquest she feared he would go on to Syria

The widow of one of the London Bridge attackers is "not going to grieve" his death, she has told an inquest.

Khuram Butt and two other men were shot dead by police after they killed eight people in a 10-minute attack.

Butt's wife, Zahrah Rehman, told the Old Bailey his actions were "disgusting" and their children would never know where his grave was.

She denied prior knowledge of her husband's plot but said she had been worried he wanted to go to Syria.

When Butt booked a holiday to Turkey in 2015, Ms Rehman refused to go because she feared he would take their son on to the war-torn country, she said.

She told her family about her concerns and they took both Butt's and the child's passports away.

Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge with a rented van before stabbing people in nearby Borough Market.

On the day of the attack, Ms Rehman said Butt had a lie-in until 11:00 BST and did not kiss his children goodbye when he left.

Armed police stormed Butt's home at about 08:00 BST the following day and arrested Ms Rehman.

She broke down in court as she described her shock at finding out what her husband had done.

"I could not register it that I was living with him and he was in the same house as me and my kids," she said.

"We were living together. But it was almost as if we were living different lives.

"I knew it was a possibility that he wanted to go to Syria… but he never told me that he hates this country and wanted to attack this country."

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption The victims of the London Bridge attack clockwise from top left - Chrissy Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sébastien Bélanger, Ignacio Echeverría, Xavier Thomas, Sara Zelenak, Kirsty Boden

Ms Rehman said she did not observe the traditional period of mourning for her husband after his death or attend his funeral.

In the aftermath of the attack, she said she laid flower tributes to the victims on London Bridge.

"My kids will never know where his grave is but I was there mourning with the rest of London on that bridge," she said.

She told how she still cannot look at photographs of Butt's victims.

'I did not know'

By Keiligh Baker, BBC News, at the Old Bailey

Ms Rehman gave evidence from behind a screen, but the court could hear emotion in her voice as she described her horror at her husband's actions.

She began sobbing as she told the court how some people had shunned her in the two years since the horrific events of 3 June 2017.

"People say: 'She's the wife, she had to have known'," she said. "But believe me - I did not know."

The inquest was shown two pictures of the small flat she shared with Butt and their two children.

Piles of brightly coloured children's toys and a framed wooden heart on the wall made it an incongruous setting for an extremist to plan a murderous attack.

Ms Rehman said her family was originally from Pakistan, but she was born and brought up in the UK.

When she first met Butt through family connections she said he was "really confident", "charismatic", and "quite light-hearted".

They had an arranged marriage on Christmas Day, 2013.

"We were just a normal Muslim family," she said.

But she said her husband was quite strict and would get "angry" with his sister if she came to visit without wearing a headscarf.

And her brother had encouraged Butt to stop partying, drinking alcohol and smoking weed.

Butt had been upset about the plight of the Syrian people under President Bashar al-Assad, Ms Rehman told the court.

The room was shown a video of Ms Rehman and Butt on their honeymoon in Pakistan, during which Butt was heard saying, "Dawlat al-Islamiyah" - another name for the Islamic State group.

Ms Rehman said she did not know what her husband was saying as she did not understand Arabic.

In a second video, filmed on a plane, the couple joke about naming airports after extremists.

Ms Rehman suggests calling a London airport after Abu Luqman, an alias of radical preacher Anjem Choudary.

She said he was the first extremist she thought of and it was "just a stupid joke".

Butt 'wouldn't listen'

By 2015, Ms Rehman said she was aware her husband sometimes met Choudary.

She told Butt he should not associate with the preacher, but "he wouldn't listen".

She was not allowed to be in the same room as men, so would go into the bedroom when Butt's friends came to the flat.

"I was usually on my laptop... watching my films… I wouldn't be paying attention to what they were talking about," she said.

Ms Rehman was told that by mid-2015 MI5 had intelligence Butt might be planning an attack in the UK.

But she said she was not aware of any plot.

At one point, the couple had an argument when Butt suggested taking a second wife, and she left him for about a month to live with her mother.

While they were separated, Channel 4 broadcast a programme featuring Butt called The Jihadis Next Door.

The court previously heard how during the programme Butt condemned the UK government, particularly over its actions in Iraq and Syria.

Ms Rehman told the Old Bailey: "I was really angry at him. I was really embarrassed and ashamed at him."

The pair got back together, she said, but continued to argue.

Those who died were: Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sébastien Bélanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and, Ignacio Echeverría, 39.

The inquest continues.

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