The Metropolitan Police has named convicted terrorist Usman Khan, pictured, as the man responsible for the London Bridge Terror attack which claimed two lives
The London Bridge attacker who stabbed two people to death in a horrific knife rampage yesterday was a student and close friend of hate preacher Anjem Choudary, it has been revealed.
Usman Khan, 28, was jailed in 2012 for his role in an al Qaeda-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and the US Embassy and kill Boris Johnson.
It has now been revealed that the knifeman, who was released less than seven years into a 16-year sentence, had the private phone number of Choudary stored on his mobile phone at the time of his initial arrest, the Henry Jackson Society told the Times.
It has also been said that Khan, who killed Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt, 25, and an unnamed woman in the attack, was a ‘personal friend’ and student of Choudary.
Khan spent years preaching on stalls that were linked to al-Muhajiroun, the banned terror group once led by Choudary.
As part of the plotting which led to his 2012 arrest, Khan’s group planned to set up a training camp in Kashmir, where his family had land.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that it was a ‘mistake’ to release Khan from prison and has vowed to crack down on early releases for inmates. The PM visited the scene of the attack today with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
It emerged today that London Bridge attacker Khan was a student and ‘personal friend’ of hate preacher Anjem Choudary (Pictured in 2012)
Khan, circled third from the right, had been arrested along with his Al Qaeda cell, pictured, after they were planning a pre-Christmas terror campaign in 2010. Officers had tracked the group, who included from left, Mohibur Raham, Gurukanth Desai, Abdul Miah, Usman Khan, Mohammed Chowdhury and Mohammed Shahjahan in Roath Park in November 2010
Khan was released on licence in December 2018 and was still wearing a monitoring tag at the time of yesterday’s attack, which he carried out while wearing a fake suicide vest.
The knifeman was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and other terrorism offences in late December 2010, along with eight others.
On February 1 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 hand-written 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.
The gang also carried out surveillance of other possible targets including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye.
They planned to send five bombs in the post to London synagogues and the Church of Scientology headquarters, as well as spreading panic in Stoke-on-Trent by planting bombs in pub and club toilets.
Khan, shot dead, lies on the ground as a police photographer records the scene at London Bridge after he killed two people
Their plot was foiled after the security services bugged their homes and cars and heard discussions of a ‘Mumbai’ atrocity on the streets of Britain, mirroring the guerrilla-style 2008 attack in India.
Khan and two others, all from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted to a charge of engaging in conduct for the preparation of terrorism between November 1 and December 21 2010 – namely travelling to and attending operational meetings, fundraising for terrorist training, preparing to travel abroad and assisting others in travelling abroad.
Jack Merritt, from Cottenham, has been named as a victim of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack
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 February 6, 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.’
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.
His 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.
Flowers left at London Bridge this morning following yesterday’s horrific attack which left two people dead and several injured
Crime scene tape remains on the scene, with vehicles laying abandoned on the bridge following yesterday’s horrific attack
During a late-night meeting on December 4, 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.’