Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan would have been unlikely to have been released from prison had he needed to satisfy the Parole Board, the police officer leading the investigation into the homegrown jihadi said.
Detective Chief Inspector Dan Brown said 28-year-old Khan’s behaviour was consistently poor during much of his eight years in jail as one of the most high-risk inmates across the prison estate.
Khan was arrested in December 2010 and eventually admitted plotting a terror training camp in his parent’s homeland of Pakistan, but his indeterminate sentence was varied upon appeal.
It meant Khan no longer needed the approval of the Parole Board before his release, meaning he was released on Christmas Eve 2018 to complete the rest of his sentence on licence in the community.
Khan, from Staffordshire, carried out the Fishmongers’ Hall atrocity less than a year later, strapping knives to his hands and fatally stabbing Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner education alumni event near London Bridge on November 29 2019.
He was pinned to the ground by members of the public who chased him with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk, before exposing a suicide belt around his waist.
The belt was later found to be a hoax.
He was later shot at 20 times by police and was declared dead at the scene.
Giving evidence about Khan’s life, Mr Brown described how he became interested in the extremist views of prominent figures Anwar al-Awlaki and Anjem Choudary, and had repeatedly been involved in violence while in prison.
At various points, extremist literature and some household items which could be used to construct an improvised explosive device (IED) were found in his cell, while he was also found in possession of a blade, the home address of a governor, and had been planning to break through to a neighbouring cell.
Mr Brown told the inquest: “Generally speaking, his behaviour was fairly poor.
“He was disruptive … and there was intelligence to suggest he was responsible for radicalising others.”
Mr Brown agreed that the decision to vary Khan’s original indeterminate sentence was significant, because his behaviour in prison was unlikely to have satisfied a parole board.
Mr Brown said Khan was the second youngest of seven children, and was raised in Stoke-on-Trent.
However, various claims from Khan’s childhood – including that he was expelled from school at the age of 12 or 13 – could not be verified.
The inquest heard one former teacher described Khan as “fairly unremarkable”.
Mr Brown, recalling a police interview with the staff member, said: “He (Khan) had a teenage swagger, a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. But fairly unremarkable.”
The inquest continues.