(JTA) — A man arrested carrying a knapsack full of knives near the Downing Street office of British Prime Minister Theresa May was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010.
The suspect arrested Thursday on suspicion of planning a terrorist act was identified on Friday as Khalid Omar Ali, 27, of London, the British daily newspaper the Telegraph reported.
Reuters reported that Ali was on the Mavi Marmara and other aid flotillas to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
The Telegraph cited a former associate of Ali as saying that his experiences delivering aid to such a war-torn area may have left him disturbed and possibly suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. He reportedly was under surveillance by police when he was picked up Thursday near the prime minister’s office. Ali’s family reportedly had told police that he was behaving erratically.
After being on the Mavi Marmara when nine Turkish nationals were killed during a raid by Israeli naval commandos, Ali joined the Greek-flagged Strofades IV bound for Gaza from Libya, which sailed to Greece but did not continue on to Israel.
“Khalid was a happy, smiley person who was very easygoing,” a member of that group told The Telegraph. “He had a genuine desire to help people. But perhaps his experiences took their toll on him and he has suffered some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
His arrest came slightly more than a month after and 100 yards from the spot where Khalid Masood was shot and killed after launching a deadly terror attack on the British Parliament.