The Streatham terror attack may have been prevented had home-grown jihadi Sudesh Amman been recalled to prison before he struck, an inquest jury has concluded.
Twenty-year-old Amman was shot dead by armed undercover officers after he stole a knife from a hardware shop and began randomly stabbing members of the public on Streatham High Road in south London on February 2 2020.
Police and MI5 officers were so concerned about Amman two days before the atrocity that they held an emergency meeting to discuss the prospect of arresting the recently released terrorist.
But HM Prison and Probation Service decided not to recall him to prison, despite undercover officers spotting him buy four small bottles of Irn-Bru, kitchen foil and parcel tape from Poundland on January 31 – items they rightly feared could be used to make a hoax suicide belt.
Amman was kept under round-the-clock armed surveillance instead.
The senior investigating officer on the Amman case denied suggestions from the terrorist’s family that police should have intervened and that the undercover operation was a “massive failure”, saying instead the Met’s actions on the day he struck prevented further tragedy.
Amman had been living at a probation hostel in Streatham for 10 days when he stabbed a man and a woman before turning to charge at two armed police officers who gave chase.
The male victim and the police officers who eventually opened fire on Amman both described fearing they would die during the 62-second rampage.
The inquest jury at the Royal Courts of Justice returned a conclusion of lawful killing, after retiring for 11 hours to consider their finding, but said probation “missed an opportunity” to send him back to prison following the Poundland trip.
Jurors concluded the decision not to search Amman’s probation hostel, or search him in person, did not amount to a missed opportunity.
The coroner Mr Justice Hilliard, at the inquest’s conclusion, said: “Amman was prepared to risk his life… In stark contrast the Metropolitan Police surveillance teams were prepared to put themselves in harm’s way.
“They are all to be commended for their bravery, and they are owed a considerable debt of gratitude for their bravery.”