Streatham terror attack ‘could have been prevented’ with Sudesh Amman recall to prison

·3-min read
Streatham terror attack ‘could have been prevented’ with Sudesh Amman recall to prison

The Streatham terror attack by committed extremist Sudesh Amman could have been prevented if he had been recalled to prison, a jury has concluded.

Home-grown jihadi Amman, 20, had been free from prison for just 10 days when he went on the rampage among south London shoppers on February 2 last year.

He used a knife from a shop to stab two people, and was shot dead when he charged at armed officers in front of Boots in Streatham High Road.

At the conclusion of an inquest in front of Mr Justice Hilliard, jurors today returned a verdict of lawful killing by police and concluded there had been a “missed opportunity” to prevent the attack.

Amman had been under surveillance two days before the terror attack as he bought four small bottles of Irn-Bru, kitchen foil and parcel tape from Poundland.

Sudesh Amman running into Low Price Store (Met Police) (PA Media)
Sudesh Amman running into Low Price Store (Met Police) (PA Media)

Officers feared - rightly - that Amman was collecting items for a fake suicide vest, but the decision was taken to keep him under surveillance and not raid his probation hostel room.

The fake suicide vest he had prepared was not discovered, and Amman was not recalled to prison.

Mr Justice Hilliard commended the actions of police who stopped the attack, saying: “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.”

Amman had been jailed for 40 months for obtaining and distributing material for terrorist purposes, when a combat knife and jihadi flag were found at his home.

Senior police and MI5 officers described him as “one of the most dangerous individuals that we have investigated” just two weeks before the homegrown jihadi was released from prison.

Sudesh Amman running along Streatham High Road as he stabbed passers by, captured on footage from Holland and Barrett (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Sudesh Amman running along Streatham High Road as he stabbed passers by, captured on footage from Holland and Barrett (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Intelligence compiled on 20-year-old Amman – both in the build-up to his conviction for collecting material useful for terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications, and in the days before his release from Belmarsh – painted a picture of a young man bent on radicalisation and committing a crime.

His inquest heard he expressed a desire to kill the Queen, and remarked his wish to have been involved in the 2013 murder of fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks.

He was also seemingly obsessed with his own celebrity, apparently boasting to cellmates that he was Belmarsh’s youngest terror offender.

Prison guards found a pledge of allegiance to the leader of Islamic State in his cell, but Amman was still released around two weeks later.

Amman died from two gunshot wounds that ended the 62-second terror attack, when an undercover officer opened fire over fears that he was about to be attacked.

Following the incident, the government pushed through a change in the law to prevent terrorists from being automatically released at the halfway point of their criminal sentence.

During the passage of the the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC told MPs: “As we saw in the Streatham attack, we cannot have a situation where an offender — a known risk to the public — is released without any oversight by the Parole Board.”

The law applies to offenders sentenced for crimes such as training for terrorism, membership of a proscribed organisation, and the dissemination of terrorist publications.

It ensures terrorist offenders serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are considered eligible for release.

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