UK government ‘ignored’ warnings before London terror attack

Mentor says London Bridge killer Usman Khan appeared to have faked his renunciation of terrorism

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: A mourner carries an order of service after a memorial service to celebrate the life of Saskia Jones at Holy Trinity Church on December 20, 2019 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Saskia Jones was killed alongside fellow Cambridge graduate Jack Merritt by Usman Khan as they helped organise a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers Hall in London on 29th of November. (Photo by Darren Staples/Getty Images)
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A former policeman warned authorities that a terrorist might have faked his renunciation of violence eight months before he murdered two people.

The Muslim mentor said Usman Khan had a "suspiciously rehearsed" persona of a reformed extremist during their hours of discussion following his release from prison, the Sunday Times reported.

Khan, 27, went on to stab two people to death at a conference on rehabilitation in November before being chased on to London Bridge, where he was tackled by passers-by. Khan, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, was shot dead by police.

Khan was jailed in 2012 over a plot to bomb the UK’s stock exchange but was released in December 2018. He joined a desistence and disengagement programme, a new strand of the government’s counterterrorism programme, designed to help deradicalise convicted extremists.

The mentor said Khan had been willing to talk about how he was a reformed character and claimed he had urged other inmates to recant.

But the mentor highlighted his concerns after Khan suddenly became enraged during one of their meetings because of restrictions placed on his movements and internet use after his release from prison.

“That sudden shift in his demeanour was alarming. But he was very self-aware and immediately self-corrected his behaviour when he realised I’d noticed his shift,” he said.

But he said the only contact he had from the UK’s Home Office after raising concerns was when they advised him not to speak to the media following the deaths of Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25. The murders happened 11 months after Khan was freed from prison.

“What the hell happened between March and November, and how the hell has nobody seen the warning signals?” he said.

“I am prepared to speak to people in authority to ensure that lessons are learnt and that no more innocent lives are lost as a result of terrorist acts.”

A Home Office representative declined to comment on the case but said authorities would “make an assessment about the risk posed and take action accordingly” when concerns were raised.

“The government is introducing new tougher sentencing laws to ensure the most serious violent offenders, including terrorists, serve longer in custody,” the official said.