The terror attack near London Bridge Friday was carried out by a 28-year-old man named Usman Khan. Khan had been part of a plot to attack the London Stock Exchange back in 2010. He was convicted and given a 16-year sentence of which he eventually served 8 years. While in prison, Khan claimed he wanted to deradicalize and began working with a rehabilitation group called Learning Together. Since his release in December 2018, he has been treated as a success story by the group and even appeared on their website:
Learning Together, a Cambridge University programme, worked with Usman Khan in prison and after his release and used him as a case study to show how they helped prisoners.
Khan even wrote a poem and a thank-you note to organisers after they provided him with a computer he could use without breaching a licence that banned him from going online.
Just months later the 28-year-old used his connection to the rehabilitation initiative to get permission to travel to London and kill two of those people who were trying to help him.
The photo above is taken from the Learning Together website. That’s Khan on the left with the computer the group provided him. Khan began his attack Friday at a Learning Together event which was held at Fishmonger’s Hall, adjacent to London Bridge. The two victims who died in the attack were both connected to the group:
Former University of Cambridge students Jones, 23, and Merritt, 25, were fatally stabbed by the 28-year-old attacker at an event run by the Cambridge-based prisoner rehabilitation program Learning Together. Merritt worked for the program and Jones was a volunteer.
Usman Khan was attending the event at London’s Fishmongers’ Hall and had returned for the afternoon session when he started stabbing people.
Toby Williamson, the Hall’s chief executive described what happened:
“There was a scream, there was blood. People thought it was an exercise at first,” Mr Williamson told the BBC.
He recounted how two men, named as Lukasz and Andy, “used fire extinguishers, chairs and narwhal tusks ripped off the wall” to take the fight back to Khan
“They took a decision, one that enough was enough. They were determined it wasn’t going to go on.”
“They are two of the most humble people… but in the heat of the moment, people do extraordinary things.
With the next election just 10 days away, the attack has become a partisan battle. Boris Johnson has criticized the early release of Khan while Jeremy Corbyn has blamed the attack on years of funding cuts by conservatives. One thing helping Johnson’s argument is that since the attack Friday, authorities have been checking on other convicted terrorists who were released from prison early. This weekend, one of those individuals was re-arrested and sent back to prison and more are expected to follow:
On Sunday night, West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old man arrested in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts had been recalled to prison due to a suspected breach of his licence conditions.
He is Nazam Hussain, who was one of 74 convicted terrorists being screened in reaction to the deadly attack and sources have told The Telegraph “a number” are expected to be sent back to prison in the coming days.
This ABC clip gives a pretty good summary of what we know, including the fact that just last year Khan was interviewed by the BBC and denied being a terrorist: