Usman Khan (terrorist)
10 March 1991
|Died||29 November 2019 (aged 28)|
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
Usman Khan (10 March 1991 – 29 November 2019) was a British terrorist who was convicted of plotting a terrorist attack in 2012 and who was shot dead by City of London Police after being restrained by members of the public whilst committing a knife attack near London Bridge on 29 November 2019.
Khan was born on 10 March 1991 in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, to Pakistani immigrant parents. Khan spent some part of his teenage years in Pakistan and wanted to start a training school in that country.
According to the British Parliament's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation 2013 report, Khan travelled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan before his eventual December 2010 arrest. Khan dropped out of school and preached for al-Muhajiroun.
2008 anti-terror raids
Khan's home in Stoke-on-Trent was raided by counter-terrorist police in 2008. Khan was interviewed by the BBC in 2008, when he denied being a terrorist; he issued the same denials to a local paper using a false name. He was 17 at the time, and was not charged.
2010 arrest and 2012 terrorism conviction
Khan was one of a group of nine men arrested in 2010 who were the focus of MI5's anti-terror Operation Guava and all pleaded guilty in 2012 to Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism offences, which included plans to bomb the London Stock Exchange, the Houses of Parliament, the US embassy, two rabbis at two synagogues, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, the home of then London Mayor Boris Johnson, build a terrorist training camp in land Khan's family owns in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, attending terrorism related operational meetings, preparing to travel abroad, and assisting others in travelling abroad for terrorist activities. Khan, like all the others, envisioned returning to the U.K. from their Kashmiri training camp, together with future recruits, to engage in unspecified terror attacks.
Khan proposed to fundraise in the UK as opposed to overseas, arguing supporters in the UK earn in a day what donors in Kashmir earn in a month. He added: "On jobseeker's allowance we can earn that, never mind working for that." His home bugged by MI5, he was recorded calling non-Muslims "dogs." Following his arrest, Khan admitted traveling to the plotter's 2010 tactical meetings in Cardiff in November and in Newport in December. Khan's plans to build a terror-training camp in Kashmir never materialised and "there was no evidence that there was any real funding to build it". The group had formed in October. The terror cell's organisational chart was found in Khan's home. In addition to confessing to terrorism planning, Khan admitted terrorism fundraising and possession of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire. Khan received an indeterminate sentence in 2012 with a minimum term of eight years. At sentencing, the judge said that Khan and his Stoke-on-Trent associates were "more serious jihadis" who operated "at a higher level of efficacy and commitment than the rest" —the other six convicts.
Rehabilitation and release from prison
Under the indeterminate sentence, Khan would have remained in prison for as long as it was felt necessary to keep the public safe. However, Khan's original sentence was quashed. Along with Nazam Hussain and Mohammed Shahjahan, also from Trent, Khan appealed against the sentences and had the indeterminate sentences dropped by the Court of Appeal in 2013. Lord Justice Leveson found the original decision had “wrongly characterised” the three men as more dangerous than the other defendants.  Khan was then sentenced to a 16-year term which allowed him to be automatically released after serving eight years. Khan was allowed to leave Belmarsh Prison on temporary release licence in December 2018.
During his time under custody, Khan successfully completed the Healthy Identity Intervention Programme, which is now the U.K.'s principal rehabilitation scheme for terrorism convicts. Following Khan's release, he participated in the Desistance and Disengagement Programme, which is designed to "address the root causes of terrorism.
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The terms of his temporary release licence did not allow for travel to London, special permission would have been needed for him to participate in Cambridge University's Learning Together "Five Year Celebration" on the day he perpetrated the 2019 London Bridge stabbing. Khan was wearing an electronic tag and a fake suicide jacket when he was shot following the stabbing.
Links to terror groups
Khan was a supporter of Al-Muhajiroun, the group led by Anjem Choudary, which has been dubbed Britain's "most proliﬁc and dangerous extremist group". He was said to be inspired by Al-Qaeda. Khan's solicitor Vajahat Sharif claimed that Khan had become disillusioned with Al-Muhajiroun and that during his prison sentence he had repeatedly requested the help of a deradicaliser, to no avail. Sharif said that in 2018 Khan appeared to be rehabilitated, and that he may have been "re-groomed" by extremists after his release.
In 2012, after being convicted of offences related to a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange, Khan was sentenced to be kept in prison for an indeterminate time. This meant that he could not be released whilst he was still considered to be a danger to the public. Following an appeal in 2013, his indeterminate sentence was quashed, and in its place he was given a 16-year prison sentence, which meant he would be entitled to automatic release on licence after having served eight years. Questions were also raised about the level of monitoring he was subject to by the authorities responsible after his release. The Parole Board confirmed that it had no involvement in deciding when Khan was released from prison, saying Khan “appears to have been released automatically on licence” even though he had a “serious long-term plan” and a commitment to terrorism.
Chris Phillips, former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, commented the justice system was “playing Russian roulette” with the lives of the public. Philips commented that the original trial judge “wanted this man in prison for a very very long time”, and described Khan’s release as “quite incredible”. Paul Gibson, former head of counter-terrorism at the UK Ministry of Defence, supported the criticism, commenting on the release: “A lot of people will find that extraordinary.”
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The son of parents from the disputed region of Kashmir in Pakistan
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Usman Khan was born in Stoke-on-Trent to working-class immigrant parents from Azad Kashmir.
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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.
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