Sudesh Amman: Police voiced concern over Streatham terror attacker's intent before his release from jail, inquest hears

·4-min read

Police were so concerned that terrorist prisoner Sudesh Amman might launch an attack, they tried and failed to get prison authorities to hold him in jail longer, an inquest into the Islamist extremist's death has been told.

The 20-year-old had been free from prison just 10 days before he launched a knife attack on Streatham High Road in southeast London.

He was shot dead by two armed surveillance officers just a minute after launching his attack on 2 February 2020.

Amman was jailed in December 2018 for collecting and disseminating extremist literature.

"While in prison he appeared to retain an extremist mindset and appeared still intent on carrying out acts of violence on his release," Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, told the hearing.

Mr Hough said: "He also seemed to feel he had celebrity status as a result of being convicted of terrorist offences."

During a search of his cell in 2019, prison officers found handwritten notes in Arabic that "appeared to show a pledge of loyalty to the leader of Islamic State", Mr Hough said.

On 3 January 2020, three weeks before his release, he was involved in a protest about the death of another prisoner in custody and jumped on the netting between floors at Belmarsh jail where he was held.

As result, he was moved into the segregation unit and while there, there were "significant reports" that he had told another prisoner he was "not finished with these non-believers yet".

The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice heard that the Met's Counter Terror Command was so concerned about Amman's apparently unrepentant behaviour, officers asked the prison governor not to release him.

However, the request was turned down because the offence Amman was jailed for could not justify an extension to his sentence.

The governor at Belmarsh told police it would not be possible to prevent Amman's release if a disciplinary charge were pursued.

It would have required an independent adjudicator, and that would not have been able to take place before his early release date, the jury was told.

The inquest also heard that the Prison Service maintains that the offence Amman had committed "would not have justified an extension of the sentence".

Amman was subsequently released and was under 24-hour surveillance when he launched his attack less than a fortnight later.

Two days before the incident, he was seen looking at knives in shops and buying various items, which police believed could have been used in the construction of a fake suicide vest.

On the morning of the attack, a total of nine surveillance officers had been following him as he left his bail hostel near to Streatham High Road.

He was observed walking into the Low Price discount store on the High Road.

Inside he snatched a 20cm-long kitchen knife and ripped off the packaging, before running out of the shop and launching his attack.

Two of the armed surveillance officers, who were following about 15 metres behind, chased him north along the High Road.

He stabbed a woman in the back outside a local pub, before attacking a man a few metres on outside a Cash Converters store. The man was stabbed on the right side of his torso.

One of the surveillance officers got close enough to open fire, but the shot missed Amman and hit the front window of a Lidl store. The flying glass injured a third member of the public in the leg.

The young terrorist was eventually shot as he reached the outside of a Boots chemist store.

The inquest was told that he had stopped running and turned around, apparently heading back towards the officers.

They opened fire, shooting five times. Two bullets struck Amman, one in the neck, another in the abdomen.

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Officers saw he was wearing what looked like a suicide vest, which later turned out to be a fake, a tactic used in several terrorist attacks in recent years.

Three members of the public were injured in the attack, but none died.

The inquest is due to run for at least two weeks.

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