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Usman Khan (terrorist)

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Usman Khan
Usman Khan

(1991-03-10)10 March 1991
Died29 November 2019(2019-11-29) (aged 28)
London, England
Cause of deathGunshot wound
ResidenceUnited Kingdom
Years active2010–2019
WeaponsKitchen knife

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.

Early life

Khan was born on 10 March 1991 in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, to Pakistani immigrant parents[3][4][5][6]. Khan spent some part of his teenage years in Pakistan and wanted to start a training school in that country.[7]

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.[8][9] Khan dropped out of school and preached for al-Muhajiroun.[10]

2008 anti-terror raids

Khan's home in Stoke-on-Trent was raided by counter-terrorist police in 2008.[11] Khan was interviewed by the BBC in 2008, when he denied being a terrorist;[12] he issued the same denials to a local paper using a false name. He was 17 at the time,[13] and was not charged.[10]

2010 arrest and 2012 terrorism conviction

Khan was one of a group of nine men arrested in 2010[14] 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,[15][16] 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.[17][18] 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.[19]

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."[20] His home bugged by MI5, he was recorded calling non-Muslims "dogs."[10] Following his arrest, Khan admitted traveling to the plotter's 2010 tactical meetings in Cardiff in November and in Newport in December.[21] 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".[22] The group had formed in October.[17] The terror cell's organisational chart was found in Khan's home.[16] In addition to confessing to terrorism planning, Khan admitted terrorism fundraising and possession of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire.[23] Khan received an indeterminate sentence in 2012 with a minimum term of eight years.[24][25][26] 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.[10]

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. [17][27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

He was considered a "success story" for a Cambridge University rehabilitation programme.[30][10] The Times reported that Cambridge University was considering admitting Khan as an undergraduate.[10]

2019 attack

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.[31] Khan was wearing an electronic tag and a fake suicide jacket when he was shot following the stabbing.[32]

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".[25][33][26] He was said to be inspired by Al-Qaeda.[34] 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.[35]

Political and social debate

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.[36] Questions were also raised about the level of monitoring he was subject to by the authorities responsible after his release.[36][37] 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.[36][17]

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.”[36]


  1. ^ De Simone, Daniel (30 November 2019). "What we know about the London Bridge attacker". BBC News. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Usman Khan: The suspected terrorist behind the London Bridge attacks". Gulf News. 30 November 2019.
  3. ^ Kirby, Dean (2 December 2019). "Usman Khan: why the London Bridge attack terrorist was released from prison". iNews. iNews. Retrieved 3 December 2019. The son of parents from the disputed region of Kashmir in Pakistan
  4. ^ Ali Shah, Murtaza (30 November 2019). "Usman Khan had no relation with Pakistan". Geo TV. Geo TV. Retrieved 3 December 2019. Usman Khan was born in Stoke-on-Trent to working-class immigrant parents from Azad Kashmir.
  5. ^ Burnett, Tom (30 November 2019). "London Bridge attack suspect from Stoke-on-Trent - police confirm". The Sentinel.
  6. ^ Townsend, Mark; Iqbal, Nosheen (30 November 2019). "'We don't understand how Usman Khan ended up like this'". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "London Bridge Attacker Named as Usman Khan: Police". Newsweek Pakistan. 30 November 2019.
  8. ^ "The Terrorism Acts in 2012: report of the Independent Reviewer" (PDF). The Controller of her Majesty’s Stationery Office. 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  9. ^ "Usman Khan profile: terrorist who wanted to bomb London Stock Exchange". The Guardian. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
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  11. ^ "London Bridge: Who was the attacker?". BBC. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  12. ^ "'I ain't no terrorist' Usman Khan says in resurfaced BBC interview from 2008 | Watch News Videos Online". Global News.
  13. ^ "Who was Usman Khan?". Telegraph. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  14. ^ Simon Israel (27 December 2010). "Christmas 'terror plot' targeted London landmarks". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 4 October 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  15. ^ Caroline Gammell (27 December 2010). "Christmas bomb plot: nine men remanded over plan to 'blow up Big Ben and Westminster Abbey'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 October 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  16. ^ a b Duncan Gardham (1 February 2012). "Terrorists admit plot to bomb London Stock Exchange and US Embassy". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d Association, Press (30 November 2019). "Why was London Bridge attacker Usman Khan released?". Evening Express. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Terrorism gang jailed for plotting to blow up London Stock Exchange". The Telegraph. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Terror group members who planned to bomb London Stock Exchange jailed". The Guardian. Press Association. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2019. 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.
  20. ^ "Pakistan training camp discussed in secret recording". BBC. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  21. ^ "London Stock Exchange bomb plot admitted by four men". BBC. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  22. ^ Shah, Murtaza Ali (30 November 2019). "FACTCHECK: Usman Khan had no relation with Pakistan". Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  23. ^ Paul Hannon; Stephen Fidler (30 November 2019). "Attack by Convicted Terrorist Prompts U.K. to Review Sentencing". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Nine jailed over bomb plot and terror camp plan". BBC News. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  25. ^ a b Wahlquist, Calla; Rawlinson, Kevin; Weaver, Matthew; Dodd, Vikram; Dodd, Vikram (30 November 2019). "London Bridge attacker named as Usman Khan, 28 – live updates". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  26. ^ a b Gemma Fox (30 November 2019). "London Bridge attacker is named by police". The Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  27. ^ Bird, Steve (30 November 2019). "Leveson ruling opened the door to killer's early release". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  28. ^ "London Bridge attack: What we know so far". BBC News. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  29. ^ "London Bridge: Usman Khan completed untested rehabilitation scheme". BBC. 4 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  30. ^ Hayley Dixon; Victoria Ward; Greg Wilford (1 December 2019). "London bridge attacker was poster boy for rehab scheme he targeted". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  31. ^ Martin Evans; Steve Bird; Greg Wilford (30 November 2019). "Who was Usman Khan? The attacker who hoodwinked authorities to fulfil his terrorism dream of targeting London". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  32. ^ Alison Chung. "London Bridge terror: Attacker named as convicted terrorist Usman Khan". Sky News. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  33. ^ Mann, Tanveer (30 November 2019). "London Bridge attacker who left two dead named as 28-year-old Usman Khan". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Usman Khan profile: terrorist who wanted to bomb London Stock Exchange". The Guardian. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  35. ^ Dodd, Vikram (30 November 2019). "London Bridge attacker had asked for help to deradicalise - lawyer". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  36. ^ a b c d "Boris Johnson under pressure to explain why a convicted terrorist was released early to commit London bridge attack". The Independent. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Usman Khan: Boris Johnson under pressure to explain why convicted terrorist was released early to commit London bridge attack". Telegraph UK. 30 November 2019.