Years before Usman Khan was shot and killed by police after London Bridge stabbing, authorities said he planned to start a “terrorist military training facility.”
Khan, 28, was identified as the suspect in Friday’s central London attack that left two people dead and three others injured, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.
He was released from jail in December 2018 on an ankle monitor after he pleads guilty to terrorism charges in 2012.
Here’s what we know about the suspect:
He was convicted of terror offenses
Police say, Usman Khan, 28, is the suspect in Friday’s attack in London.
In 2010, Khan and eight others were arrested in London as part of a major counterterrorism operation. Some of the men were accused of terror charges over an “al Qaeda-inspired plot” to bomb the London Stock Exchange, UK police said at the time.
Khan, originally of Pakistan, admitted to other terror offenses involving fundraising and recruiting for a terrorist military training facility under the guise of a madrassa, or educational institution, on land in Kashmir that was owned by his family, according to court documents from the case.
Authorities said Khan’s family land already had a mosque on it and those involved in the plot were looking to infuse the group with cash to “establish and operate a terrorist military training facility,” according to a sentencing document.
Khan and another suspect in the case were accused of planning to train people at the facility with the goal of making them “more serious and effective terrorists,” the documents said.
Khan pleaded guilty in 2012 to the charges and he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role.
Suspect in deadly stabbing near London Bridge identified
At the time of his sentencing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, the senior national coordinator for counterterrorism, said the operation was one of the most complex counterterrorism operations at the time.
“We had a network of highly dangerous men based in three cities who were working together to plan terrorist attacks in the UK,” Osborne said. “Had we not taken action to disrupt this network, their actions could have resulted in serious casualties or fatalities.”
During the investigation in 2010, nearly 1,000 police officers were involved in the operation, which involved monitoring the men in Staffordshire, Wales, and London, Osborne said. National counterterrorism forces and security services were involved in the operation.
Khan was released from prison in 2018 with an ankle monitor, police said.
Before Friday’s attack, he was residing in the Staffordshire area of England, about 150 miles northwest of London, authorities said.
Khan was at an event before the attack
Khan attended an event at Fishmonger’s Hall said Basu, the assistant commissioner.
Basu continued by saying “we believe the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto the Bridge.”
The event was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for alumni celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Learning Together Network. The group, a network of academics and criminal justice organizations, is affiliated with the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, the website for the event said.
The University of Cambridge tweeted Friday, saying “we are gravely concerned at reports that University of Cambridge staff, students and alumni were caught up in the incident at London Bridge.”
Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge, said he was devastated to learn that staff, students and alumni attending an event organized by the university’s Institute of Criminology may have been targeted during the attack.
Usman Khan, who stabbed two people to death and injured three in London before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers on London Bridge, was released in December last year after six years of imprisonment for offenses related to terrorism.
Khan, who was a resident of Staffordshire, had lived in Pakistan during his teens. Khan left school with no qualifications after his mother became ill, The Telegraph reported.
He went on the rampage just before 2 pm Friday, targeting people at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge — where a deadly attack by Islamist militants had taken place two years ago. Police have said that Khan was inspired by the ideology of the al-Qaeda terror group.
“28-year-old Khan was attending a program that works to educate prisoners when he launched the attack, killing a man and a woman and injuring three others just yards from the site of a deadly 2017 van and knife rampage,” AP quoted Neil Basu, London’s police counterterrorism head, as saying. He also said that the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest but it turned out to be “a hoax explosive device”.
Khan was convicted in 2012 of terrorism offenses for his role in the Stock Exchange plot in 1990, a planned scheme for a Christmas bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange, the American Embassy and the home of Boris Johnson, who was then the Mayor of London. While sentencing him, the judge had warned that he was a “serious jihadist” who should not be released as he was a threat to the public, according to The Telegraph.
The police last night said that Khan was released in December 2018 “on license”, which means he had to meet certain conditions or face recall to prison. Several British media outlets reported that he was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.
According to The Telegraph, police searched Khan’s home in Stoke, from where they recovered a folded A4 sheet of paper which had notes on the structure, roles, and responsibilities of individuals in a terror cell. It included the headings ‘structure’, ‘responsibilities’, ‘communication’ and ‘local’.
Boris Johnson has condemned the early release of criminals after it emerged that the man who carried out the latest London Bridge terror attack was a convicted Islamist who had been freed from prison on an electronic tag.
Two people were murdered and at least three more seriously injured, when the suspected jihadist, wearing a fake suicide vest, went on a rampage at a criminal justice seminar he was attending.
Police named the man as Usman Khan, a 28-year-old from Staffordshire. Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner, said his team was carrying out searches at the suspect’s residence but believe that he was acting alone.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the extraordinary bravery of members of the public and the emergency services who helped tackle the manic, describing them as “the very best of our country”.
But he also said he had “long argued” it was a “mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early”.
He added: “It is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see.”
Temporarily suspending his election campaign, Mr. Johnson said Britain would never be “cowed, divided or intimidated” by those who brought terror to the streets and he vowed to hunt down and bring to justice anyone else involved.
The incident began just before 2 pm on Friday, when the attacker, who had been attending the Learning Together criminal justice conference at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge began stabbing fellow delegates with two large knives.
It is understood the former prisoner, who was still on license and whose movements and travel was restricted, had been given permission to attend the event along with other convicted criminals.
The killer is thought to have attended the morning session, taking part in various workshops, in which he described his experiences as a prisoner, before launching his deadly attack without warning just before 2 pm.
On Friday night it was feared the victims were students and academics who had been at the event.
Despite the fact he was wearing a fake suicide belt and threatening to blow himself up, the attacker was bravely challenged, including by at least one former prisoner, who was also attending the event.
After running out of Fishmongers’ Hall, onto London Bridge, the attacker was dragged to the ground, with passers-by also joining in to restrain him and prevent more carnage.
Just five minutes after the alarm was first raised, armed officers from the City of London Police arrived on the scene and after pulling members of the public off the man, shot him dead.
Coming just days before the country goes to the polls, Friday’s attack bore chilling similarities to the outrage at Borough Market on June 3, 2017, five days before that year’s general election.
Then, eight people were murdered by an Isil inspired cell of three attackers in fake suicide vests who drove across London Bridge, plowing into pedestrians and stabbing people before being shot dead by police.
The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox took place in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum vote.
On Friday night security sources confirmed that the attacker – who is not thought to be from London – was known to the security services and had terrorist connections as well as a conviction.
An urgent review has been ordered into why he had been released early under license.
Sources also said there were a number of raids taking place overnight, with the security services and counter-terrorism police desperate to establish who the attacker had been associating with.
Conservative and Labour suspended campaigning last night as a mark of respect to the victims but said they would review the matter over the weekend.
Mr. Johnson canceled Saturday’s appointments to focus on the response.
Paying tribute to those who had bravely intervened, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “What’s remarkable is the breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them.”
Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, said that police had first been called at 1.58 pm and officers from the City of London Police had tackled the attacker by 2.03 pm, just five minutes later.
Dame Cressida said: “The empty ideology of terror offers nothing but hatred and today I urge everyone to reject that.”