Videos recorded on civilian phones just days ago show a brawl on the North side of London Bridge where a man with what appeared to be a large white stick, and another with a fire extinguisher, attempted to incapacitate and restrain another individual.
Later news reports would go on to describe how heroes from the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf event hall had chased out a terrorist who appeared to be wearing an explosive device and had gone on a stabbing rampage inside an event on criminal rehabilitation held at the venue.
Attendees attempted to keep the attacker behind a set of doors but he burst through and began swiping at the air with knives.
Reports details how a Polish kitchen porter, later identified in the media as Lukasz, utilized a 5ft Narwhal tusk that was mounted on display on one of the walls and used it to fend off the perpetrator. As the attacker fled the building and headed out to the bridge men from the conference, including rehabilitated ex-cons, gave chase and others soon joined in eventually pinning the man to the ground. A plain clothed British transport police officer is seen wrestling a knife from the attackers hand before police eventually show up, tell civilians to back away and shoot the attacker dead.
Two people were killed and three were injured in the attack. Jack Merritt, 25, a course coordinator for the “learning together” program, a prisoner rehabilitation program and part of the university’s institute of criminology, was in attendance at Fishmongers hall that day died as a result of his injuries. Saskia Jones, 23, also enrolled at the same prisoner rehabilitation course, also lost her life in the attack.
The attacker was later identified as 28 year old Usman Khan. The suicide vest was later found to be fake but said to look very realistic. Khan had been released from prison on license in December of 2018. He was convicted for his part in conspiring to carry out another terror attack on the London stock exchange, just a few hundred meters from where he was apprehended and shot dead on London bridge. Khan was arrested in 2010 after pleading guilty to terrorist acts and was sentenced to a maximum of 16 years in 2012. He was eventually released after serving less than half of the potential sentence.
The London Stock exchange bomb plot saw 9 men jailed after pleading guilty to “preparing for acts of terrorism”. They were being heavily monitored and surveilled by police at the time who found no evidence of bomb making but enough will and intent to arrest them. The men were said to have discussed planting pipe bombs around London pubs and in the stock exchange building, as well as planned armed attacks. The group are believed to have met through “Islam4UK”, a U.K based radical Islamist group with links to Anjem Choudary.
After his 2018 release Khan was living in a hostel in the Stafford area. He was electronically tagged with a GPS ankle band for monitoring purposes and was made to attend bi-weekly meetings with a mentor. Part of his rehabilitation included his enrollment in the “Desistance and disengagement Programme”, attended by those convicted of acts of terrorism and extremist offences. An article published in the Guardian in April 2019 described the DDP as an intervention style course designed to rewire the thinking of those who have been radicalized through mentoring and psychological support. Khan also completed “the Healthy Identity Intervention Programme”. The programmes have been criticized for their effectiveness and lack of evaluation with some even calling it “experimental”.
Khan seemed to be complying with the terms, however others who have completed the course claim it wouldn’t be difficult to convince a mentor that one had changed their ways. Khan requested permission to attend the conference at Fisherman’s Wharf, a permission that he was unfortunately granted.
A video published online in 2008 shows a younger Khan telling the camera: “I was born and bred in England in Stoke-on-Trent. I aint no terrorist.”
According to a segment shot by Channel 4, Khan left high school with no qualifications and is suspected to have links to a local radical preacher named Anjem Chaudary. Chaudary is considered one of the most influential and dangerous radicalizers in the U.K.