On Friday, November 29, 2019, A British man stabbed several people during London Bridge terror attack. Two of the victims died because of intense injuries. The attacker on London Bridge was identified as Usman Khan, 28 years-old.
Usman Khan was just freed from the prison under licence for terrorist offences. Besides the London Bridge terror attack, another controversy started in Pakistan when Pakistan’s top publisher “Dawn News” reported about London Bridge terror attack and told that “Usman Khan Belongs to Pakistan”. See the report of ‘Dawn News’, below.
The false report of “Dawn News” on London Bridge terror attack, sparked outrage in Pakistan. Many accused the newspaper for promoting India’s Agenda to spoil the Image of Pakistan. See the Public Reactions on the false report of Dawn News on London Bridge terror attack, below.
FACTCHECK: Usman Khan had no relation with Pakistan.
Indian media and one of Pakistan’s top News Publisher “Dawn News” has published a piece of fake news to link the London Bridge terror attack and the attacker Usman Khan with Pakistan. However, the fact is that Usman Khan had no connection with Pakistan as far as his extremist radicalization, terror conviction and his abhorrent acts are concerned.
Indian media outlets have said that Usman Khan, the terror suspect shot dead in the November 30, 2019 terror attack near London Bridge, was born in Pakistan but that’s a lie and a venture to malign Pakistan.
This correspondent has attended some parts of Usman Khan’s terror trial at the Woolwich Crown Court in 2012 when he was convicted of terrorism charges with eight others for planning to bomb London Stock Exchange.
Unlike erroneous reports published in Indian media, it became obvious during the trial at Woolwich Crown Court that Usman Khan had no relation of any kind with Pakistan or Azad Kashmir, the birthplace of his parents.
The trial had heard from the counter-terrorism police specialists that while Usman Khan discussed setting up a training camp for training in Azad Kashmir, that plan never materialized. The evidence provided before the court had established that there was no stake of anyone from Pakistan in the nefarious plans that Usman Khan and his terrorism associates were making.
It became clear during the trial that Usman Khan was inspired by the terrorist ideology of terror group Al-Qaeda but his source of inspiration was online grooming, local radical groups and widespread availability of extremist literature online and in social circles. The terrorism trial also gave a clear hint of Usman Khan’s own mental instability and disorder.
Usman Khan was born in Stoke-on-Trent to working-class immigrant parents from Azad Kashmir.
Usman Khan was part of a gang of nine extremists from Stoke-on-Trent, Cardiff and London who were sentenced in February 2012 at Woolwich Crown Court. He was 19 at the time and youngest of the group. Most of the gang members were British Bangladeshis and three of them were born in Bangladesh while all the rest were British born.
Khan went to a local Stoke school and dropped out without any qualifications. Coming from a deprived and socially excluded background, Usman Khan started hanging around with local street gangs and drug pushers in the area.
Khan lived for a large part of his life on Persia Walk. As he grew up, he started mixing with religious radicals. He was often seen doing stalls of “daata” in Stoke for the proscribed terrorist organisation al-Muhajiroun, which was once led by solicitor-turned-hate preacher Anjum Chowdhury.
The nine-members gang included Mohammed Shahjahan, Omar Latif, Nazam Hussain, Usman Khan, Mohibur Rahman, Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah. Mohammed Chowdhury was the lynchpin of the terror group.
The attacker of London Bridge terror attack and his collaborators were bugged throughout from early 2010 onwards, for several months, by the best intelligence and counter-terrorism force of the United Kingdom and the detectives found no evidence whatsoever that Khan and his terror affiliates had any links to a foreign soil including Pakistan.
All of the gang members had admitted the charges of preparing for acts of terrorism. The gang, led by Bangladeshi extremists, talked to each other through dawah – proselytising – or by Paltalk or other internet messaging. The London-based Bangladeshi gang members visited London Stock Exchange, Whitehall, the American embassy and other locations for surveillance while preparing acts of terrorism. They were being secretly filmed while visiting the potential terror sites.
In the secret recording brought before the court, it was established that Usman Khan and others had planned to establish a “terrorist military training facility” on land owned by his family in Kashmir using the monthly income they received from the state.
In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Wilkie had said that Usman Khan and two others (Nazam Hussain and Mohammad Shahjahan) were “more serious” than the others. The court had heard that Usman Khan, Hussain and Shahjahan were planning to fund and establish the terrorist training school and for that purpose, they were planning to leave the UK in January 2011 to train.
The court heard that there was in camp in Azad Kashmir and the United Kingdom, militants were planning to reach there and set it up.
The court didn’t see any evidence linking anyone from Pakistan or Azad Kashmir for being in touch with the militants to help them in their aims of carrying out terrorist acts. When the group were arrested, they were found in possession of the Al-Qaida English-language extremist magazine, Inspire.
The detectives had planted bugs at Khan’s home in Persia Walk, Stoke-on-Trent.
Usman Khan was tapped discussing how he will raise funds using jobseeker’s income. Sentencing, the judge said that the gang embarked on a “serious, long-term venture in terrorism” that could also have resulted in atrocities in Britain.
The judge had warned that Khan was a serious militant who should not be released while he remained a threat to the public. But that Khan, 28, from Staffordshire, had been freed from prison on an electronic tag.
Usman Khan was wearing a fake suicide vest and electronic tag when he attended the “Learning Together criminal justice conference” at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge. He was allowed with other convicted prisoners to attend the course for rehabilitation of prisoners and convicts.
Just Before London Bridge terror attack, Usman Khan was freed. Then he went on a killing spree. How did this happen?
In the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack, questions are being raised over a justice system that freed a killer: The Guardian.
That Usman Khan killed two people having been released from prison under licence for terrorist offences has raised a flurry of urgent questions concerning public safety and prisoner supervision.
Usman Khan, along with two other men from Stoke-on-Trent and several from London and Cardiff, was accused of targeting the London Stock Exchange, the Houses of Parliament and the US embassy, as well as several religious and political figures.
But Khan, then 20, admitted to a lesser charge – engaging in conduct for the preparation of terrorism. The court heard that he had been secretly recorded talking about plans to recruit UK radicals to attend a training camp in Kashmir.
Along with another man, he was given an indeterminate public protection sentence (IPP) and was told that he would serve at least eight years in prison.
Passing sentence, judge Mr Justice Wilkie said Khan and others had been involved in a “serious, long-term venture in terrorism” that could also have resulted in atrocities being carried out in Britain.
“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,” he said.
But the IPP sentence, which ends only when the Parole Board considers that an offender no longer poses a risk to the public, was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2013. At the time many politicians and penal reform campaigners feared such sentences were resulting in prisoners unjustly spending too long in jail, and they were being abolished.
At his appeal Khan’s legal team claimed that he was a young man whose ambition was to bring sharia law to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and that it was “highly unrealistic to suppose that the authorities in Pakistan would allow a teenager from Stoke to impose sharia law or run a training school for terrorists”.
One of the appeal judges, Lord Justice Leveson, acknowledged that there was “no doubt that anyone convicted of this type of offence could legitimately be considered dangerous” but replaced Khan’s IPP sentence with a 16-year determinate sentence.
Prisoners are usually released halfway through such sentences, but Khan had served less than seven years when he was freed on licence in December last year and ordered to wear a tag. His time spent in custody before he was sentenced would have been taken into account, according to legal experts.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, politicians on all sides have claimed that the sentencing and supervision regime applied to terrorists needs revisiting.
Boris Johnson said it was important to “enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists”.
Security minister Brandon Lewis said: “I think it is right that we do have to look again at the sentence, around these violent crimes.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he, too, was concerned that IPP sentences had been scrapped, and also raised the issue of people being released on licence.
“Does the Ministry of Justice, does the probation service have the powers and resources to properly supervise people who are clearly dangerous?” Khan asked.
However, Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, cautioned against a kneejerk reaction from politicians. “The IPP sentence was abolished because many low- and no-risk people were left languishing in prison, sometimes for years.
The pursuit of total security will only ever result in multiple injustices. We need to learn the lessons from any failings of supervision in this particular case, and do a lot more to address the causes of extremism.”
Chris Phillips, a former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, warned that convicted terrorists were being released when still radicalised. “We’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives, letting convicted, known, radicalised jihadi criminals walk about our streets,” Phillips said.
Although, Khan was not considered high risk, he was seen by probation twice a week. There was nothing in his pattern of behaviour prior to the attacks that suggested his risk profile had changed.
As is mandatory for convicted terrorists, he was on the government’s Desistance and Disengagement deradicalisation programme and was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation, organised by the University of Cambridge, when he is alleged to have stabbed two people to death.
The conference, held at London’s Fishmongers’ Hall, was to celebrate five years of the Learning Together initiative, and was an invitation-only event.
Founded by two academics, Drs Amy Ludlow and Ruth Armstrong, the initiative has been widely praised by penal reformers.
“They wanted to get academics out of ivory towers,” said one justice campaigner who asked not to be named. “They wanted prisoners and criminologists to sit together in the classroom and learn together.” An American idea, it has now spread across the UK, with many prisons teaming up with universities.
“It would be a tragedy if what has happened has an impact on the initiative,” the campaigner said. “Maybe 98% of those who attend benefit from it. Remember, some of those who chased him down were ex-offenders who’d been at the same conference.”
Why Khan appears to have been beyond rehabilitation will now be the subject of intense scrutiny.
His radicalism dates back to at least 2006 when he would engage in street activism, preaching against homosexuality. In 2008 his Staffordshire home was raided by police who suspected him of trying to brainwash vulnerable members of his community. His views, it seems, were deep and stubborn.