LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he wanted to overhaul the automatic early release of terror convicts after a stabbing attack in London claimed by the militant Islamic State group.
Sudesh Amman, 20, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, was shot dead by undercover armed police after knifing two people on a busy south London street on Sunday. Amman was recently freed early from prison after serving part of his sentence for a string of terror offences.
The IS propaganda arm called Amman “an IS fighter” and said “he carried out the attack in response to a call to target nationals” of countries belonging to the global coalition fighting against the jihadist group.
The attack came just over two months after a similar incident when armed police shot dead a convicted terrorist on early release near London Bridge in the heart of the city. Usman Khan stabbed two people to death after attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference.
Johnson said Justice Secretary Robert Buckland would announce plans later to change the system on handling the release of convicted terrorists. “What was he [Amman] doing out on automatic early release and why was there no system of scrutiny, no parole system to check whether he was really a suitable candidate?” the PM told reporters.
“My anxiety is that we do not want to get back to a system where you have a lot of very, very, laborious surveillance by our hard-pushed security services ... when a custodial version might be better.”
Amman had been arrested in London in May 2018 on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. He was jailed for three years and four months in December 2018 for 13 separate offences.
After recently being automatically let out of jail part-way through his sentence, Amman had been staying in a hostel for newly-released prisoners in Streatham.
As part of what police said was a “proactive counter-terrorism surveillance operation”, plain-clothes armed officers were following him on foot.
Amman stole a knife from a cheap goods store, then attacked a woman, then a man further up the high road, before being gunned down.
Amman’s mother told Sky News television that her son was a “nice, polite boy”. Haleema Faraz Khan said he seemed “normal” when she visited him on Thursday, and he called her before Sunday’s attack asking her to make him some mutton biryani.
Khan, who is originally from Sri Lanka, said she thought the eldest of her five sons had become radicalised in prison.
“He was watching and listening to things online which brainwashed him,” she said. “Before he went to prison he was not that religious. After he came out he was really religious.”
Of the two people stabbed, a man in his 40s was being treated in hospital for his injuries, which were said to be non-life-threatening.
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020
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