Victims of the Fishmongers' Hall attack were killed unlawfully by a convicted terrorist

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    Victims of the Fishmongers' Hall attack were killed unlawfully by a convicted terrorist

    Fishmongers’ Hall inquest jury’s full findings: The series of failings that left terrorist Khan free to kill

    An inquest jury for the victims of the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack found ‘omission or failure’ in the management of Usman Khan in the community by MI5 and the police contributed to the deaths.

    Asked to give a explanation for the conclusion, they issued a series of bullet points:

    • Unacceptable management and lack of accountability;
    • Serious deficiencies in the management of Khan by Mappa (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements);
    • Insufficient experience and training;
    • Blind spot to Khan’s unique risks due to ‘poster boy’ image;
    • Lack of psychological assessment post-release from prison.

    At the time of his release in 2018, Khan – a convicted terrorist – was assessed as being a ‘very high risk of serious harm’ to the public by a prison psychologist. 

    MI5 had even passed on ‘uncorroborated’ intelligence to police that Khan was preparing to return to his ‘old ways’ and that he aspired to carry out an attack. But the Mappa panel was only told of the ‘old ways’ strand, which was labelled ‘low grade’, jurors were told.

    MI5 and counter-terrorism police had also launched an investigation into Khan which was still ongoing at the time of the attack. However, Khan’s probation officer and the Mappa chairman were unaware of the probe.

    A senior MI5 officer told the inquest jury that the intelligence service remained ‘sceptical’ about Khan’s compliance with his licence conditions following his release, but did not counsel caution.

    One of Khan’s mentors recorded an incident when the terrorist became angry and then quickly covered it up. Only much later did the mentor describe being fearful at witnessing Khan with ‘hate’ in his eyes and ‘evil intent’.

    The Mappa panel, made up of largely police and probation officers, met 12 times to discuss Khan’s case.

    A plan for him to attend a Learning Together event in March 2019 was deemed ‘too soon’ and a dumper truck course was rejected due to incidents of terrorists using vehicles as weapons. However, in the summer of 2019, Khan was permitted an escorted appearance at a Learning Together event at Whitemoor prison.

    When in August the proposed unescorted London event in November was put forward by the Probation Service, there was no record of it having been positively approved by Mappa. Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, suggested there was ‘a collective blind spot’ about the trip and its associated risks.

    Panel chairman Nigel Byford said the decision should have been recorded in minutes but insisted no-one raised any objections about it at the time.

    Sonia Flynn, executive director of the Probation Service, told jurors that the decision to allow the London trip should not have been left to one probation officer and there should have been a risk assessment.

    Probation officers assigned to his case were ‘inexperienced’ in dealing with terrorism offenders, and did not have enough time to spend with Khan, it was claimed.

    By September 2019, Khan was exhibiting some of warning signs raised by the prison psychologist in her report the year before. He had failed to find a job and was increasingly socially isolated, spending much of his time at home playing on his Xbox.

    From the time Khan moved out of approved premises and into a rented flat, Prevent police officers visited him twice, spending just 18 minutes with him, the court heard.

    The security services learned of the London trip in November 2019, just 11 days before the event. In her evidence, the senior MI5 officer conceded that a discussion around the risks at the joint operations team meeting ‘would have been helpful’.

    But she said it would have taken 24/7 surveillance to have foiled the lone wolf knife attack, which would have been unwarranted on the information they had at the time.

    Learning Together co-founder Dr Ruth Armstrong said she was unaware of intelligence on Khan and had she known, he would not have been invited to Fishmongers’ Hall.

    Jurors were told the organisation made no risk assessment of the event beforehand. Research associate Simon Larmour, who accompanied Khan from Euston station on the morning of the attack, said he only knew of his terror conviction through a Google search.

    Staff at Fishmongers’ Hall said they were not warned that a convicted terrorist was among the delegates. There were no bag searches on the door or knife arches at the venue, jurors heard.

    Counter-terrorism prison security governor Steve Machin, who was among the guests, noticed Khan was wearing a bulky coat, which it later transpired concealed a fake suicide vest. He told jurors he was not in a work ‘headspace’ so accepted Khan’s ‘plausible’ explanation.

    Later that day, Khan strapped knives to his hands and fatally stabbed Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt before being shot dead on London Bridge.

    Previously, the Mappa panel had regarded Khan’s association with offender educational group Learning Together as positive and something to be encouraged. 

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    Families of the two Cambridge graduates who were stabbed to death by Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan today blamed the security services for a litany of failures which left the jihadist free to kill. 

    It comes after an inquest jury found that Khan – an Islamist terrorist who was released from prison early after he was found guilty of planning an atrocity on Britain – had ‘unlawfully killed’ the two graduates. 

    Jurors also found that a catalogue of failures and omissions by MI5 and counter-terrorism had made the London Bridge rampage in November 2019 possible.

    The grieving relatives of victims Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, also slammed the prisoner rehabilitation charity which invited Khan to the event at which he struck for its ‘scant regard’ for safety. They added that their suggestion they would not have done anything differently was ‘insulting’. 

    In a statement, Mr Merritt’s father Dave Merritt said the arrangements for managing Khan were ‘not fit for purpose’. He also described MI5 and West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Police as ‘complacent and passive in the face of Khan’s extreme and continuing threat’.

    Ms Jones’ uncle Philip Jones said the event organisers Learning Together, a prisoner education programme, appeared to have ‘scant regard’ for safety, while state agencies also shared responsibility. On Learning Together, he said: ‘It could be said that their single-minded view of the rehabilitation of offenders, using Usman Khan, in our view, as a ‘poster boy’ for their programme, significantly clouded their judgment.’  

    Mr Jones said: ‘We were particularly concerned after hearing the evidence given by the Learning Together Directors, which allowed an insight to their attitude and the seemingly scant regard they had for the fundamental safety of their staff, volunteers and attendees at the event at Fishmongers Hall.

    ‘It could be said that their single-minded view of the rehabilitation of offenders – using Usman Khan, in our view, as a ‘poster boy’ for their programme – significantly clouded their judgement. 

    ‘It seems there was no intent on their part to listen or take notice of what they were dealing with in working with such a high risk individual. Learning Together declined an opportunity to learn more about Usman Khan and his risk factors. This may have contributed to a failure to take account of the steps necessary to protect the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved. 

    ‘This view appears to have remained unchanged despite the events at Fishmongers Hall in November 2019.’

    Mr Merritt’s father appeared to lay the blame more with the authorities tasked with monitoring Khan, saying: ‘Roles and responsibilities were unclear, communication between the agencies was inadequate and leadership and co-ordination were weak.’

    ‘The probation and police teams directly responsible for Khan’s supervision were staffed by officers with little or no experience of terrorism offenders.’

    Ms Jones and Mr Merritt were fatally stabbed by convicted terrorist Khan, 28, at an alumni event put on by Learning Together on November 29, 2019. 

    The extremist, who wore a fake bomb vest, was tackled by delegates armed with a narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher, and driven out onto nearby London Bridge where he was shot dead by police.

    An inquest at the Guildhall in the City of London heard he had been released from prison 11 months earlier under strict licence conditions and was under investigation by counter-terrorism police and MI5.  

    But the ‘manipulative and duplicitous’ terrorist hid his murderous intent from those tasked with keeping the public safe, the hearing was told. The combination of his lies and communication break-downs between authorities meant he was able to travel free to London to wage his bloodthirsty attack. 

    The jury found the victims had been ‘unlawfully killed’ and confirmed basic facts surrounding their deaths. It concluded that failings in Khan’s management in the community and information-sharing and guidance by agencies responsible for monitoring or investigating Khan contributed to the deaths.

    Jurors also found that omissions or deficiencies in the organisation of the event at Fishmongers’ Hall and its security contributed to the deaths.

    In a narrative conclusion, the jury highlighted ‘unacceptable management and lack of accountability’, ‘serious deficiencies in the management of Khan’ by the multi-agency organisation responsible for public safety and ‘insufficient experience and training’.

    The jury added there was a ‘blind spot to Khan’s unique risk due to a ‘poster boy’ image’.

    Since the attack, the Ministry of Justice has brought in a raft of new measures to tighten up management of terrorist offenders in the community.

    Dr Ruth Armstrong and Dr Amy Ludlow, directors of Learning Together, said they were ‘heartbroken by the loss of our beloved colleague Jack and student Saskia’ and pledged they were ‘determined to reflect on the lessons of these inquests as we move forwards’.

    In a statement tonight, Priti Patel said: ‘It is important that the Government and operational partners learn lessons to prevent further incidents like this, and we will also consider the inquest findings.’

    The Home Secretary also vowed to ‘always do everything in my power to keep the British people safe’.

    London Mayor Sadiq Khan also said in a statement: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt.  

    ‘It’s clear from the findings of the inquest that lessons must be learned and action taken to safeguard our communities and protect us from the dangers convicted terrorists pose in London and across the country.

    ‘I want to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of our emergency services and the bravery of ordinary Londoners who ran towards danger that day to help save the lives of strangers.

    ‘The way that our city responded and stood united in the aftermath of the attack showed the world once again that those who seek to divide us and destroy our way of life in London will never succeed.’

    It came as the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer apologised to the families of those killed in the Fishmongers’ Hall attack. Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the omissions and failures that meant opportunities to stop Khan from committing the attack were missed.  

    Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt (left), 25, and Saskia Jones (right), 23, were stabbed by the terrorist during a Learning Together rehabilitation project event

    Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt (left), 25, and Saskia Jones (right), 23, were stabbed by the terrorist during a Learning Together rehabilitation project event

    Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt (left), 25, and Saskia Jones (right), 23, were stabbed by the terrorist during a Learning Together rehabilitation project event

    Dave Merritt, the father of Jack Merritt, speaks to the media alongside Jack's mother Anne Merritt (centre) outside the Guildhall, London, following the jury's verdict today

    Dave Merritt, the father of Jack Merritt, speaks to the media alongside Jack's mother Anne Merritt (centre) outside the Guildhall, London, following the jury's verdict today

    Dave Merritt, the father of Jack Merritt, speaks to the media alongside Jack’s mother Anne Merritt (centre) outside the Guildhall, London, following the jury’s verdict today 

    Phil Jones, the uncle of Saskia Jones, speaks to the media outside the Guildhall, London, after the jury inquest into the attack

    Phil Jones, the uncle of Saskia Jones, speaks to the media outside the Guildhall, London, after the jury inquest into the attack

    Phil Jones, the uncle of Saskia Jones, speaks to the media outside the Guildhall, London, after the jury inquest into the attack

    West Midlands Police picture of terrorist Usman Khan, 28, who launched London attack

    West Midlands Police picture of terrorist Usman Khan, 28, who launched London attack

    West Midlands Police picture of terrorist Usman Khan, 28, who launched London attack

    Mr Jones continued to say in his statement he felt many had let down his niece and Mr Merritt.  

    He said of Learning Together: ‘Their refusal when giving evidence adequately to review past behaviours within their organization and to consider that they may have done things differently is astounding and insulting to the family. Likewise, the same approach was demonstrated by The Fishmongers Company, who have also sought to exonerate themselves of any responsibility and refuse to accept, even with hindsight, that they could have avoided the murder of Saskia, with a little more common sense relating to what would amount to simple security measures. 

    ‘There are clearly other individuals and organisations, encompassed within ‘The State’ agencies that must take a share of the responsibility for the events of November 29, 2019. There will be some detail we will never know, and it is for those who hide behind the cloak of secrecy to search their own conscience and review their own potential failings.

    ‘However, it is beyond understanding and astonishing that not one of the State agencies sufficiently considered the associated risk and therefore questioned the wisdom of sending Usman Khan unaccompanied to London.

    ‘Whilst we appreciate where witnesses have reviewed their part and accepted where failings occurred, it has been unsavoury and distressing to hear a number of witnesses trying to avoid proper consideration of their part in the death and injury of innocent people.

    ‘The apparent unwillingness of some of those involved in the management of Usman Khan and organization of the event at Fishmongers Hall on November 29, 2019 to take any responsibility and show some remorse in the presence of the family, has been very frustrating and ultimately distressing for us. 

    ‘The conclusion of the Inquest does not in any way ease the pain of our loss of Saskia and leaves a number of unanswered questions relating to failures of a number of organisations and individuals.

    ‘It is important to us that we ensure that Saskia’s legacy is not undermined by any association she had with Learning Together. It is clear to us that Saskia’s idea of rehabilitation was not consistent with the philosophy of Learning Together.

    ‘Saskia’s key focus and priority had always been in relation to supporting survivors, particularly those survivors of sexual violence, in the context of violence against women and children.

    ‘Saskia was in the process of securing her first steps into what we know would have been a successful and demanding career in victim support services within West Midlands Police Force, where we are sure she would have been a positive influence.

    ‘We now wish to reflect on the findings of the Inquest jury and continue to work with those who are helping us to build a suitable legacy for Saskia.’    

    Pictured: A brave member of the public helped apprehend terrorist Khan on London Bridge with a narwhal tusk

    Pictured: A brave member of the public helped apprehend terrorist Khan on London Bridge with a narwhal tusk

    Pictured: A brave member of the public helped apprehend terrorist Khan on London Bridge with a narwhal tusk

    How the Fishmongers’ Hall attack unfolded

    Convicted terrorist Usman Khan killed two talented young people and injured three more in around five minutes during a knife attack at Fishmongers’ Hall. An inquest into the deaths of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt has heard a detailed account of how events unfolded:

    • March 10 1991: Usman Khan is born in Stoke-on-Trent.
    • 2010: Aged 19, Khan is convicted of terrorism offences and spends the next eight years in jail. In that time, he becomes involved with Learning Together organisation.
    • December 2018: Khan is released from jail on various licence conditions and lives in Stafford.
    • March 2019: Khan maintains contact with Learning Together and is involved with filming a video for the organisation.
    • June 2019: He attends a Learning Together event at one of his former prisons, HMP Whitemoor.
    • November 29, 2019, 7.30am: Khan travels by train from Stafford to Euston Station in London. He is met at the station by a Learning Together staff member and he travels by Tube and foot to Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge. On route to London, it is believed Khan straps a fake suicide belt around his waist and covers it with his jacket.
    • 11am to noon: The delegates attend a brunch at Fishmongers’ Hall.
    • 11.56am: Video footage shows Khan talking ‘animatedly’ with Saskia Jones at a table, even though they had not known each other before.
    • 12noon: The main Learning Together sessions get under way with speeches in the Banqueting Hall followed by breakout sessions until 1.30pm.
    • 1.37pm: Jack Merritt leaves the building briefly, returning at 1.40pm.
    • 1.45pm: A further breakout session is due to begin but Khan goes down to the toilets on the ground floor next to the reception area.
    • Around 1.53pm: Mr Merritt goes to the gents toilets.
    • Between 1.56-1.57pm: Khan launches his attack in the men’s toilets at Fishmongers’ Hall with two knives strapped into his hands. As he prepares, he leaves a bag containing a third blade in a cubicle and drops a prayer book on the floor. He encounters Mr Merritt in the toilets and stabs him multiple times, causing 12 injuries including a fatal wound to the chest. Khan makes his way to the cloakroom area, where he gestured to a member of staff ‘as if to be quiet’. He stabs Ms Jones once in the neck. She staggers up a few steps before collapsing. Khan goes on to stab Stephanie Szczotko in the arm at the bottom of the stairs before stabbing Isobel Rowbotham in the main reception. Over the next few minutes, Khan is confronted by a number of people who take items from the walls to defend themselves, including a ornamental pike and narwhal tusks. Khan returns to attack Ms Rowbotham again as she lies on the ground. He also injures the Fishmongers’ Hall porter Lukasz Koczocik, who suffers a stab to the arm. Khan forces a member of staff to open the doors by holding a knife to his chest. He tries to chase a member of the public back inside the hall but is unsuccessful.
    • 1.58pm: Police receive a call to attend the scene.
    • Around 2.01pm: Khan is pursued on to London Bridge by John Crilly, Steven Gallant and Darryn Frost. During a confrontation on the bridge, Mr Crilly sprays a fire extinguisher at him and Mr Frost jabs at him with a narwhal tusk before they all tackled Khan to the ground with other members of the public.
    • 2.02pm: Armed City of London Police officers arrive on the bridge and tell members of the public to stand back. Khan is shot and Tasered by police, causing him to writhe on the ground.
    • 2.10pm: Khan is shot again due to the alleged ‘threat’ from what police believed was an improvised explosive device strapped to his body.
    • 2.12pm Khan no longer shows any signs of life.
    • 2.25pm Ms Jones is pronounced dead from a single neck wound.
    • 2.33pm: Mr Merritt is pronounced dead. A post-mortem examination later confirms he suffered multiple knife wounds, including some defensive injuries. The fatal wound is to the chest.
    • 2.41pm: An explosives officer moves towards Khan with armed officers and concludes the IED is fake.
    • 3.07pm: Khan’s life is pronounced extinct.
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    In his statement after the inquest, Jack Merritt’s father Dave described his son as a ‘good man helping people less fortunate than himself’.

    Mr Merritt continued: ‘Jack understood the factors that have led many of the people he worked with to end up in prison. And they understood the value of kindness and friendship – helping damaged people repair their lives.’

    He added: ‘Jack would have described himself proudly as woke, the opposite, by definition, being ignorant. Jack was a do-gooder in the very best sense of the term.’

    In a BBC interview broadcast after the verdict, he criticised officials for ‘failing’ to protect his son. 

    ‘It’s the first responsibility of a government to keep its citizens safe,’ Mr Merritt said.

    He said authorities had ‘six years’ to decide what to do with Khan leading up to his prison release date after he was convicted of terrorism offences for his role in trying to set up an extremist training camp in Pakistan.

    ‘They knew when he was going to be released, they knew what his record was in prison, which was terrible,’ Mr Merritt said.

    ‘He was involved in violence and trying to radicalise other prisoners… threatening people, holding so-called Sharia courts, and all this sort of stuff.’

    He added: ‘He was assessed by a psychologist just before he was released as being a high risk… they said he was more of a risk when he was released than when he went into prison and that there was a definite threat that he would go back to his old ways.’

    Mr Merritt continued: ‘With all that information, you would have thought that the authorities would have put in place a system to monitor and manage him effectively and keep the public safe, and they failed to do that.’ 

    Unsurprisingly the jury today found the victims had been ‘unlawfully killed’ and confirmed basic facts surrounding their deaths.

    But they made sure to criticise agencies involved in the management of the attacker, saying there was ‘unacceptable management, a lack of accountability and deficiencies in management by Mappa (multi-agency public protection arrangements)’.

    The jury criticised the planning for the Learning Together event at Fishmongers’ Hall, saying there had been a ‘lack of communication and accountability’. 

    They added there had been ‘inadequate consideration of key guidance between parties, serious deficiencies in management of Khan by Mappa’.

    The jury added there had been a ‘failure to complete event-specific risk assessment by any party’.

    They found that those involved with Khan had been blinded by his ‘poster-boy image’ for the Learning Together programme.

    They added that there had been ‘missed opportunities for those with expertise and experience to give guidance’ in the management of Khan. 

    Speaking outside the inquest, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu apologised to the victims’ families for the policing failures that contributed to the attack.

    He said: ‘The fact that, as the jury determined, there were omissions or failures in the management of the attacker, and in the sharing of information and guidance by the agencies responsible, is simply unacceptable and I am so deeply sorry we weren’t better than this in November 2019.’

    He continued: ‘Even with the new changes in place, it remains true that managing the risk posed by terrorist offenders is an incredibly challenging job for all the agencies involved and the stark reality is that we can never guarantee that we will stop ever attack, but I promise that we will do everything we can to try.’ 

    The Mappa panel, made up of largely police and probation officers, met 12 times to discuss Khan’s case.

    A plan for him to attend a Learning Together event in March 2019 was deemed ‘too soon’ and a dumper truck course was rejected due to incidents of terrorists using vehicles as weapons.

    However, in the summer of 2019, Khan was permitted an escorted appearance at a Learning Together event at Whitemoor prison.

    When in August the proposed unescorted London event in November was put forward by the Probation Service, there was no record of it having been positively approved by Mappa.

    Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, suggested there was ‘a collective blind spot’ about the trip and its associated risks.

    Panel chairman Nigel Byford said the decision should have been recorded in minutes but insisted no-one raised any objections about it at the time.

    Sonia Flynn, executive director of the Probation Service, told jurors that the decision to allow the London trip should not have been left to one probation officer and there should have been a risk assessment. 

    Probation officers assigned to his case were ‘inexperienced’ in dealing with terrorism offenders, and did not have enough time to spend with Khan, it was claimed. 

    Victim Saskia Jones sat alongside Usman Khan at the London prisoner rehabilitation event

    Victim Saskia Jones sat alongside Usman Khan at the London prisoner rehabilitation event

    Victim Saskia Jones sat alongside Usman Khan at the London prisoner rehabilitation event

    Usman Khan (1) and Saskia Jones (2) sit at a table together at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge in 2019

    Usman Khan (1) and Saskia Jones (2) sit at a table together at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge in 2019

    Usman Khan (1) and Saskia Jones (2) sit at a table together at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge in 2019

    Jack Merritt (circled) in the main event room at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge on November 29, 2019

    Jack Merritt (circled) in the main event room at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge on November 29, 2019

    Jack Merritt (circled) in the main event room at the prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge on November 29, 2019

    By September 2019, Khan was exhibiting some of warning signs raised by the prison psychologist in her report the year before. He had failed to find a job and was increasingly socially isolated, spending much of his time at home playing on his Xbox.

    From the time Khan moved out of approved premises and into a rented flat, Prevent police officers visited him twice, spending just 18 minutes with him, the court heard.

    The security services learned of the London trip in November 2019, just 11 days before the event.

    In her evidence, the senior MI5 officer conceded that a discussion around the risks at the joint operations team meeting ‘would have been helpful’.

    But she said it would have taken 24/7 surveillance to have foiled the lone wolf knife attack, which would have been unwarranted on the information they had at the time.

    Learning Together co-founder Dr Ruth Armstrong said she was unaware of intelligence on Khan and had she known, he would not have been invited to Fishmongers’ Hall.

    Jurors were told the organisation made no risk assessment of the event beforehand. 

    Jack Merritt, 25

    Jack Merritt, 25

    Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were both killed in London by terrorist Usman Khan

    Usman Khan: Deluded, deceptive and dangerous criminal one ‘hailed as a ”terrorist-made-good”

    Usman Khan was deluded, deceptive and dangerous.

    And on a cold November afternoon in 2019, those three swirling character traits that had surfaced briefly but consistently during his adult life combined to deadly effect.

    Much was known and recorded about homegrown terrorist Khan’s deviant behaviour before that fateful day.

    He was jailed in 2012 for plotting a terror camp in his parents’ homeland of Pakistan, and was known in prison as the ‘main inmate’ for extremist views.

    Khan was so notorious, in fact, that he was classed as being among the top 0.1% of the most dangerous prisoners in England and Wales when he was released into the community as a category A, high-risk offender on Christmas Eve 2018.

    Less than a year later, aged 28, Khan was dead.

    He was shot by armed police on London Bridge, approximately 15 minutes after he strapped kitchen knives to his hands and fatally stabbed Cambridge University graduates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at nearby Fishmongers’ Hall, apparently having sought out two young people who embodied everything he sought and failed to be.

    Khan was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on March 10 2001. He was the sixth of seven children, and went to a local state comprehensive school but dropped out aged 14 or 15.

    Then, in November 2017 while an inmate at HMP Whitemoor, Khan applied to enrol on a creative writing course with the Cambridge University-affiliated prisoner education programme Learning Together, which set him on a path to meet co-ordinator Mr Merritt.

    Learning Together bosses denied that Khan was seen as a ‘poster boy’ for their programme, and that they had impressed sponsors and supporters by this ‘terrorist-made-good success story’.

    Nevertheless, it was suggested by the victims’ lawyers at the inquests into the Fishmongers’ Hall atrocity that the attention of such a prestigious organisation inflated the ego of someone at the opposite end of the educational brilliance spectrum.

    Indeed, Khan loftily applied for management-grade jobs upon his release from prison, despite his obvious lack of both experience and qualifications, while he also harboured plans to study for a Masters degree at Cambridge.

    In reality, Khan was turned down for jobs repeatedly during his 11 months as a free man, including by Timpsons – one of the largest employers of ex-offenders in the country – due to his previous terror conviction.

    It was during his teenage years that he became interested in the extremist views of prominent figures Anwar al-Awlaki and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned terror organisation al-Muhajiroun.

    He later admitted planning a terror training camp to send anti-West fighters to the UK and was handed an indeterminate sentence which was varied upon appeal to an extended sentence. As such, he was released without parole after eight years inside.

    Khan was described as an ‘influential’ inmate who associated with other high-profile terrorists, including Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killer Michael Adebowale, while Khan later told people he had mixed at various times with the likes of hooked cleric Abu Hamza and notorious prisoner Charles Bronson.

    Khan was described as being a ‘model prisoner’ in a special meeting involving MI5, Staffordshire Police Special Branch and West Midlands Police counter-terrorism unit a fortnight before his release.

    The reality was very different. He was found to have hidden a razor and stockpiled chemicals in his cell, he assaulted a prisoner, he cheered a terrorist attack in Barcelona, and deliberately talked through the two-minute silence for Remembrance Sunday.

    Khan’s behaviour apparently showed marked improvement in the months before his release, though an internal report suggested any compliance may have been a deceit intended to secure his release from jail.

    Indeed, intelligence two months before he was freed from HMP Whitemoor suggested he ‘would return to his old ways’ – interpreted as meaning terrorism – and that he was planning an attack. And so it proved.

    But he successfully convinced his prison chaplain Reverend Paul Foster and probation officer Ken Skelton that he had changed his ways for the better, with Mr Skelton assessing Khan’s likelihood of reoffending and risk of extremist offending as ‘low’ in the days before he struck.

    This was despite Khan occasionally letting his mask slip, including on one occasion when he became angry with his mentor about his restrictive licence conditions – the witness later describing Khan as having ‘hate in his eyes and real evil intent’ before suddenly checking his temper.

    He even succeeded in duping Mr Merritt, who insisted Khan had been ‘de-radicalised’ when a Learning Together colleague raised concerns about possible terrorist imagery in a poem Khan wrote ahead of his release.

    Even on the day of the attack, wearing a fake suicide belt and carrying a backpack containing the eventual murder weapons, Khan bounded over to his former prison counter-terrorism governor, offered him a hug, and declared: ‘I have learnt that violence isn’t the path.’

    Another lie – but one which would have profound consequences on the lives of two young academics and all those present at Fishmongers’ Hall that awful day.

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    Evidence during the inquest included how a play written by Khan that foretold parts of his Fishmongers’ Hall atrocity was deemed ‘creative writing’ and did not give security services cause for concern for MI5. 

    The script, entitled Drive North, was written while he was serving eight years in prison for planning a terror training camp in his parents’ homeland of Pakistan, and was passed on to the spy service in early 2019. 

    Within the plot, Khan wrote of a protagonist who had been treated in a secure prison unit, before being released and going on to commit a series of murders with a knife.

    A senior MI5 officer, known as Witness A for legal reasons, said the foreshadowing play did not necessarily mean Khan ‘may re-engage in terrorist activity.

    Describing his role in containing Khan, Mr Gallant said: ‘I had done a little bit of wrestling so I knew how to pin people to the floor.’

    He said Khan managed to get up, so he gave the suspect ‘a couple of uppercuts to the face’ which helped to ‘stun him a little bit’.

    A second man, Ministry of Justice communications manager Darryn Frost, wept in the witness box as he described refusing to let go of Khan, even though armed police yelled at him to do so.

    He told the inquests: ‘I said, ‘I’ve got his hands, he can’t kill anyone else, I won’t let him kill anyone else’.

    ‘I didn’t want him to be shot. His statement that he was waiting for the police meant he wanted to die.’

    Mr Frost, his voice trembling with emotion, added: ‘I saw the chaos he had caused in the hall – I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of his choice when he had taken that away from others.’

    The third man, former prisoner John Crilly, described how Khan lost his balance after Mr Frost and Mr Gallant struck him during a tense few seconds on the bridge.

    It was then that Mr Crilly – who served 13 years in prison for murder before the conviction was quashed and he was resentenced for manslaughter – hit Khan over the head with a fire extinguisher.

    He told the inquests: ‘I was telling (police) to shoot the bastard.

    ‘I was telling them, ‘He’s just killed people, he’s got a bomb, just shoot him’.’  

    Describing his role in containing Khan, Mr Gallant said: ‘I had done a little bit of wrestling so I knew how to pin people to the floor.’

    He said Khan managed to get up, so he gave the suspect ‘a couple of uppercuts to the face’ which helped to ‘stun him a little bit’.

    A second man, Ministry of Justice communications manager Darryn Frost, wept in the witness box as he described refusing to let go of Khan, even though armed police yelled at him to do so.

    He told the inquests: ‘I said, ‘I’ve got his hands, he can’t kill anyone else, I won’t let him kill anyone else’.

    ‘I didn’t want him to be shot. His statement that he was waiting for the police meant he wanted to die.’

    Mr Frost, his voice trembling with emotion, added: ‘I saw the chaos he had caused in the hall – I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of his choice when he had taken that away from others.’

    The third man, former prisoner John Crilly, described how Khan lost his balance after Mr Frost and Mr Gallant struck him during a tense few seconds on the bridge.

    It was then that Mr Crilly – who served 13 years in prison for murder before the conviction was quashed and he was resentenced for manslaughter – hit Khan over the head with a fire extinguisher.

    He told the inquests: ‘I was telling (police) to shoot the bastard.

    ‘I was telling them, ‘He’s just killed people, he’s got a bomb, just shoot him’.’  

    Steve Gallant, who met Mr Merritt through prisoner education programme Learning Together, said he initially ‘whacked’ Khan with a narwhal tusk inside Fishmongers’ Hall but was empty-handed by the time he got to the bridge. 

    It came after several people in Fishmongers’ Hall tried to disarm Khan, including porter Lukasz Koczocik, who used a long ceremonial pike plucked from the walls of the Grade II-listed building.

    He said: ‘Once I managed to land a strike on his (Khan’s) belly, he grabbed the pike in one hand, still holding the knives, and I couldn’t shake him off.

    ‘He caught me in the hand and in the shoulder.

    ‘I dropped the pike because he cut the tendon in my hands so I couldn’t grip it.’

    Mr Koczocik said Mr Crilly and Mr Frost then chased Khan out on to the street, prompting him to warn nearby members of the public that Khan was armed.

    Criminology graduate Stephanie Szczotko, who survived being stabbed by ‘expressionless’ Khan in her arm and torso, said she remembered trying to raise her arm to defend herself during the attack.

    Isobel Rowbotham, who worked part-time as an office manager for Learning Together, described how she had to ‘play dead’ after being seriously injured by Khan.

    Chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC commended those who challenged Khan after they concluded their evidence.

    As the verdict at the inquest was reached the forewoman read a short statement on behalf of the jury addressing the victims’ families.

    She said: ‘The jury would like to send their heartfelt condolences to the families of Saskia and Jack, and to all who love and miss these two wonderful young people.

    ‘They clearly touched the lives of so many, ours included.

    ‘We wanted to convey to the families how seriously we have taken our collective responsibility. How important this is to us, how much their children matter.’

    She continued: ‘We also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the astonishing individuals who put themselves in real danger to help, and our incredible emergency services for their response both that day and every day.

    ‘Once again to the families, we are so incredibly sorry.

    ‘The world lost two bright stars that dreadful day.’ 

    A decorative pike, which was used by members of the public as they tackled terrorist Khan during the attack in 2019

    A decorative pike, which was used by members of the public as they tackled terrorist Khan during the attack in 2019

    A decorative pike, which was used by members of the public as they tackled terrorist Khan during the attack in 2019

    Metropolitan Police photographs of a knife and tape which were shown in court yesterday as the inquest began

    Metropolitan Police photographs of a knife and tape which were shown in court yesterday as the inquest began

    Metropolitan Police photographs of a knife and tape which were shown in court yesterday as the inquest began

    Mr Frost jabbed at Khan with a narwhal tusk (pictured) before tackling Khan to the ground with other members of the public

    Mr Frost jabbed at Khan with a narwhal tusk (pictured) before tackling Khan to the ground with other members of the public

    Mr Frost jabbed at Khan with a narwhal tusk (pictured) before tackling Khan to the ground with other members of the public

    A Metropolitan Police photograph of an improvised explosive device used during the terror attack at Fishmonger's Hall

    A Metropolitan Police photograph of an improvised explosive device used during the terror attack at Fishmonger's Hall

    A Metropolitan Police photograph of an improvised explosive device used during the terror attack at Fishmonger’s Hall

    Deadly attacks where terrorists have been able to strike despite being known to the security services  

    The Fishmongers’ Hall attack was one of a number of terrorist atrocities where the perpetrator was known to the security service MI5.

    Most of the incidents have been unsophisticated attacks involving knives and sometimes vehicles, which involve less planning and are harder to detect.

    Despite MI5 and the police foiling 29 terror attacks since March 2017, the security service and counter-terrorism chiefs have repeatedly faced questions about how outrages have occurred when the killers were known to the authorities.

    The atrocities include:

    – May 2013: Murder of Lee Rigby

    Young soldier Lee Rigby was run over and stabbed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale in south-east London. Both men had previously been investigated by MI5.

    Adebolajo also claimed he had been visited at home by officers from the security service when he returned from Kenya in 2010, having been captured trying to travel to Somalia to join extremist group al-Shabab.

    – March 22 2017: Westminster Bridge attack

    Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four and injuring dozens more, before storming through gates near the Houses of Parliament and fatally stabbing unarmed Pc Keith Palmer.

    The security service’s knowledge of Masood’s contact with known terrorists over 13 years came under heavy scrutiny during the inquests into the deaths.

    Senior MI5 officer Witness L said the attack could not have been prevented because Masood acted alone, there was not enough intelligence to have stopped the plot, and the decisions not to investigate him more thoroughly were sound.

    He said Masood’s offensive extremist views, history of violence from 1998 to 2003 and his links with multiple terror suspects were not enough to scrutinise him more closely.

    – May 22 2017: Manchester Arena bombing

    Intelligence on bomber Salman Abedi came in to MI5 for six years, and right up to the months before he blew himself up with a homemade bomb, packed with shrapnel, murdering 22 bystanders and injuring hundreds more in the foyer of Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

    He was identified associating with six separate MI5 ‘subjects of interest’, visited a terrorist twice in jails, and regularly travelled to war-torn Libya.

    On one occasion, Abedi had himself been made a ‘subject of interest’, but his file was closed five months later in July 2014.

    A public inquiry is currently being held into the attack, including what MI5 knew about Abedi, but the security service admitted in 2018 that it had reacted too slowly in assessing the risk he posed.

    – June 3 2017: London Bridge and Borough Market attack

    Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, killed eight people and injured dozens more when they ploughed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then began stabbing people around Borough Market.

    Butt had previously come to the attention of MI5 in 2014, under an alias, as part of an investigation into potential terrorist attack planning in the UK. He was investigated for various periods over the next three years.

    In early 2016 Butt appeared in a Channel 4 documentary called The Jihadis Next Door, which was watched by MI5 staff.

    He had brushes with the law, including being arrested for fraud in October 2016, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

    All three attackers attended a gym that was owned by a suspected extremist and member of banned group al-Muhajiroun, although MI5 failed to identify the site as being significant.

    Zaghba nearly outed himself in March 2016, when he was stopped trying to fly from Bologna to Istanbul.

    He accidentally told airport officials he was travelling ‘to be a terrorist’, before correcting himself to ‘tourist’.

    Italian officials put a serious crime alert on Zaghba, and the following month contacted MI5 for more information but received no response. This was put down to an admin error.

    – September 15, 2017: Parsons Green tube train attack

    Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan’s homemade bomb partially exploded on a London Underground rush-hour train at Parsons Green, injuring more than 50 people. He was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 34 years.

    Following his arrival in Britain in 2015, Hassan told Home Office officials he had been trained to kill by Islamic State.

    He was referred by Barnardo’s and Surrey social services to anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent, but was never referred to MI5.

    He kept his murderous plans secret from counter-terrorism and support workers, as well as his foster parents.

    – February 2 2020: Streatham attack

    Sudesh Amman, 20, was under 24-hour police surveillance when he stabbed two people while wearing a fake suicide vest on a south-London high street.

    He had been released from prison on January 23, after being jailed in December 2018 for possessing and distributing terrorist documents.

    At the time of his release he was viewed as an ‘extremely concerning individual’.

    He was killed by police marksmen after launching his attack.

    In the wake of the atrocity, Metropolitan Police boss Dame Cressida Dick said the surveillance was not ‘man-to-man marking’.

    – June 20 2020: Reading park knife attack

    Failed Libyan asylum seeker Khairi Saadallah was briefly known to MI5 before the fatal knife attack in a Reading park in which he murdered James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, and injured another three people.

    The information given to the security service, that he planned to travel abroad possibly for terrorist purposes, did not meet the threshold for investigation.

    Saadallah had fought for the extremist Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya, and once in the UK racked up a string of convictions for crimes including violence and knife possession.

    In prison, he sought out radical preacher Omar Brooks, an ALM member.

    He was released from HMP Bullingdon weeks before the attack, and was visited by police officers on the day before, but they left when he told them he was ‘all right’. 

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    Published at Fri, 28 May 2021 19:07:08 +0000

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