On 29 November, a 28-year-old man stabbed several people in London, two of whom later died. The man, who was later shot by police, appeared to be a previously convicted terrorist, released from prison nearly a year ago after serving seven years.
A man who carried out a knife attack on London Bridge on Friday, killing two people and injuring several more, has been identified as 28-year-old Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist who was released last December on licence. The revelation about the convicted terrorist’s identity and his automatic release has unsurprisingly led to a public outcry.
How Many Years Did Attacker Spend in Prison?
Khan was involved with an al-Qaeda*-inspired group that was plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2010, as well as other administrative facilities in Britain. The group also planned to establish a terrorist training camp in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on land owned by Khan’s family, aiming to depart the UK in January 2011.
Khan, however, was captured shortly afterward and initially sentenced to an indeterminate time in jail, with the judge warning about his “serious” threat to society. The sentence was later struck down in the Court Appeal in April 2013, and he was then given a 16-year sentence.
The media reported that despite the Parole Board having to decide when Khan was safe to be released from jail, the panel itself confirmed in a statement that it had “no involvement” with the release of the identified attacker, meaning that he was released from prison “automatically on licence”, as required by law.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Friday that the terrorist was released from prison in December 2018 on an electronic tag, after serving only seven years.
Automatic Release? ‘It’s Crazy’
The revelations about Khan’s automatic release unsurprisingly caused a stream of comments trying to put the blame squarely on the judicial system’s shoulders, while also denouncing the practice of early release of such criminals.
Johnson Condemns Terrorists Early Release
Speaking before the government’s emergency committee Cobra on Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the practice of automatic release of convicted terrorists, saying that it was “mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early”.
Johnson also said that police would take extra measures in patrolling the streets in the coming days “for reassurance purposes”.
What Happened on London Bridge?
Police said the attack began at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge, where Khan had been attending a Cambridge University conference called “Learning Together Five Year Celebration Alumni Event” aimed at helping former prisoners to reintegrate into society. Khan, who started stabbing fellow delegates with knives while clad in a fake suicide vest, was allegedly wearing a monitoring tag during the conference, because his movements were still restricted. But the convicted terrorist was given permission to attend the event anyway.
A former British senior intelligence and security officer Philip Ingram said that despite Khan being under authorities’ supervision since his release, something had “not worked” in his risk assessment.
The former British officer added that you cannot monitor every former convict on a 24-hour basis, noting that it does not take a long time to commit this kind of attack.
Two people, a man and a woman, have died as a result of the attack, with other injured individuals still in hospital at the time of the article’s publication.
In June 2017, another terrorist attack was carried out on London Bridge, after a van was deliberately driven into pedestrians, before crashing on the south bank of the River Thames. Another stabbing incident later occurred in nearby Borough Market.