London attacker named, was previously convicted of terrorism offences

Published: November 30, 2019
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: British police named the man who stabbed two people to death in London on Friday in what the authorities called a terrorist attack as 28-year-old Usman Khan, who had been convicted of terrorism offences and was released from prison last year.

Police said they were not actively seeking others in relation to the incident.

“This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence,” Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said in a statement.

In 2012 Khan, from Stoke in central England, was jailed along with eight others in a terrorist group inspired by al Qaeda that had plotted to bomb targets including the London Stock Exchange.

He was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison and was also found guilty of making longer-term plans including taking part in “terrorist training” in Pakistan.

Basu said Khan had attended an event on Friday afternoon at Fishmonger’s Hall, a historic building on the north side of the bridge in the centre of the capital.

A person who is released on licence is subject to conditions for the duration of their sentence after leaving prison. The Times newspaper reported that Khan had agreed to wear an electronic tag.

The attacker went on the rampage just before 2pm, targeting people at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge in the heart of the city’s financial district.

In addition to the man and the woman who were killed, a man and two women were injured and remain in hospital, Basu said.

Just before news broke of the suspect’s previous conviction, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is seeking re-election on Dec. 12, said criminals must be made to serve their sentences.

“It is a mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early, and it is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists,” he said.

Johnson leads opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to opinion polls.

During the 2017 election campaign, London Bridge was the scene of an attack when three militants drove a van into pedestrians and then attacked people in the surrounding area, killing eight and injuring at least 48. The attack focused attention on cuts to policing since the governing Conservatives took power in 2010.

“We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our police and emergency services, and the brave members of the public who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others,” Corbyn said late on Friday.

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