Fishmongers’ Hall attacker Usman Khan ‘suspected of planning attack’ when set free from prison

Tristan Kirk
·2-min read

Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan was released from prison in the months prior to the attack despite suspicions that he remained a committed radical extremist, an inquest has heard.

Khan was set free in December 2018, almost eight years after he was jailed indefinitely for the protection of the public for being involved in a plot to attack the London Stock Exchange.

Reverend Paul Foster, a chaplain at HMP Whitemoor, worked with Khan behind bars, forming the view he had acknowledged the impact of his offending and started to reform.

But he conceded he may have been “conned” by Khan, after hearing of intelligence passed to the prison authorities that suggested he remained a risk.

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, asked Revd Foster: “Would it surprise you to hear that at the time Usman Khan was about to engage in the victim awareness course, there was prison intelligence that he had been trying to radicalise other prisoners?”

The chaplain replied: “In a sense nothing would surprise me, but I am surprised by that.”

Mr Hough continued that there was intelligence at the time of Khan’s release that he “intended to return to extremism when released, and even that he may commit an attack.”

Revd Foster said: “If the intelligence is correct, he was obviously presenting himself in a way that was set to deceive the likes of me and others.”

He added: “I’m quite open to say I was wrong. It’s possible for me to have been conned.”

He told the inquest Khan had attended a course on the dangers of the drug Spice, speaking about the impact on the community and “wanting to seek a solution rather than just punishment”.

Khan had engaged with an Imam in prison to learn more about his Islamic faith, the inquest heard, and completed the victim awareness course a week before leaving HMP Whitemoor to start the process of being released.

The chaplain said he was aware that Khan was a category A prisoner and terrorist offender, but he was not passed live intelligence on the inmates he worked with.

“He seemed to feel some shame about (his offending), particularly towards his own community and the impact it had,” he said.

“He appeared to show remorse for what he had done.”

PA Media
PA Media

Khan carried out the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall on November 29, 2019, less than a year after he was set free from prison.

He stabbed to death Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and wounded three others, before being shot dead by armed police on London Bridge.

On the day of the attack, Khan had been attending a conference from the Learning Together programme, which was dedicated to helping prisoners through inmate.

He had been given permission to travel to London that day from his approved accommodation in Staffordshire.

The inquest continues.

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