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London Bridge attacker was convicted member of al Qaida-inspired terror cell

The 28-year-old killed two people and injured three others in a knife rampage yesterday.

Usman Khan was named by police as having killed two people on London Bridge
Usman Khan was named by police as having killed two people on London Bridge
Image: West Midlands Police

Updated Nov 30th 2019, 4:35 PM

LONDON BRIDGE KILLER Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist who had been a member of an al Qaida-inspired group that plotted to blow up the London Stock Exchange.

The 28-year-old killed two people and injured three others in a knife rampage before being shot dead by police yesterday.

The first victim has been named by the BBC as University of Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt. 

Khan had been living in Stafford after he was released from prison on licence in December 2018.

Khan was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and other terrorism offences in late December 2010, along with eight others.

On 1 February 2012, the nine pleaded guilty to various terrorist offences, with four admitting an al Qaida-inspired plot to detonate a bomb at the London Stock Exchange.

Woolwich Crown Court heard a handwritten target list found on a desk at one of the plotters’ homes also included the names and addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, then London mayor Boris Johnson, two rabbis, and the American Embassy in London.

Khan and two others, all from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted to a charge of engaging in conduct for the preparation of terrorism between 1 November and 21 December 2010 – namely travelling to and attending operational meetings, fundraising for terrorist training, preparing to travel abroad and assisting others in travelling abroad.

The group was also linked to radical preacher Anjem Choudary by a mobile phone seized from an address of one of the plotters, which contained material relating to protests by the banned Al-Muhajiroun group he founded.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, opening the Crown’s case at the start of a three-day sentencing hearing on 6 February 2012, said: “These defendants had in overview decided that ultimately they would be responsible for very serious acts of terrorism.

What was observed during the indictment period was planning for the immediate future, not involving suicide attacks, so that there would be a long-term future which would include further acts of terrorism.

incident-on-london-bridge Police and emergency services at the scene of the attack on London Bridge Source: Gareth Fuller via PA Images

Recruits

Khan, then aged 20, was secretly recorded talking about plans to recruit UK radicals to attend a training camp in Kashmir.

He said there were only three possible outcomes for him and his fellow jihadists: victory, martyrdom or prison.

Khan’s then home in Persia Walk, Stoke-on-Trent, was bugged as he discussed plans for the firearms training camp, which was to be disguised as a legitimate madrassa, an Islamic religious school, the court heard.

During a late-night meeting on 4 December 2010, Khan contrasted the action he was planning in support of jihad with the passive approach of Muslims such as Choudary.

“Brothers like Anjem, they ain’t going nowhere,” he said.

Discussing terrorist fundraising, he said Muslims in Britain could earn in a day what people in Kashmir, a disputed region divided between Pakistan and India, are paid in a month.

He went on: “On jobseeker’s allowance we can earn that, never mind working for that.”

Khan said he could only see three results: “There’s victory, what we hope for, there’s shahada (death as martyrs), or there’s prison.”

Some London and Cardiff-based members of the group discussed launching a “Mumbai-style” atrocity, while the Stoke extremists talked about setting off pipe bombs in the toilets of two pubs in their hometown.

Sentencing

Khan and Nazam Hussain were given indeterminate sentences for public protection and ordered to serve at least eight years behind bars, while Mohammed Shahjahan was jailed for a minimum term of eight years and 10 months.

Passing sentence on 9 February 2012, the judge, Justice Wilkie, said this was a “serious, long-term venture in terrorism” that could also have resulted in atrocities in Britain.

incident-on-london-bridge Police patrolling the area near the scene of yesterday's attack Source: Kirsty O'Connor via PA Images

“It was envisaged by them all that ultimately they and the other recruits may return to the UK as trained and experienced terrorists available to perform terrorist attacks in this country, on one possibility contemplated in the context of the return of British troops from Afghanistan,” he said.

The trio appealed against their sentences and on 16 April 2013 had their indeterminate sentences quashed by the Court of Appeal, which instead imposed determinate custodial sentences.

The Court of Appeal judgment said: “The groups were clearly considering a range of possibilities including fundraising for the establishment of a military training madrassa in Pakistan, where they would undertake training themselves and recruit others to do likewise, sending letter bombs through the post, attacking public houses used by British racist groups, attacking a high-profile target with an explosive device and a Mumbai-style attack.”

Allowing their sentence appeals, Lord Justice Leveson, sitting with Justice Mitting and Justice Sweeney, sentenced Shahjahan to 17 years and eight months and Khan and Hussain to 16 years, along with five-year extended licence periods.

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