Authorities Suspected Terrorist Might Commit Attack Before Prison Release

terrorist
West Midlands Police

An inquest has heard that before his release from prison, authorities had suspected that Usman Khan was radicalising other inmates and believed he could commit an attack.

Khan was a convicted terrorist serving time at Whitemoor Prison and had been released early in December 2018. Less than a year later, he had fatally stabbed two people at a prisoner rehabilitation event in London. Khan had been considered a reformed character, even deceiving his lawyer into believing he had been deradicalised.

An inquest into the deaths resulting from the November 2019 terror attack revealed on Thursday that Khan was suspected of being a risk on release, and was known as “High Risk Khan” in prison, according to reporting by The Guardian.

The Islamist terrorist was highlighted in a Kings College London report on jihadists engaging in “false compliance” — appearing deradicalised to secure ensure early release — noting Khan “was considered a success story of an extremist turning their life around”. He had also fooled prison chaplain Reverand Paul Foster into thinking that he was remorseful for his part in a 2010 plot to blow up the London Stock exchange.

Counsel to the inquest Jonathan Hough QC asked Rev Foster: “Would it surprise you to hear that at the time of his [Khan’s] release, there was intelligence about him indicating that he intended to return to extremism once released, and even that he might commit an attack?

“Would it have surprised you that, around the time Usman Khan was… engaged in victim awareness, there was intelligence he was trying to radicalise other prisoners?” Mr Hough added.

Rev Foster replied that if correct, “then he was obviously presenting himself in a way in which was set to deceive the likes of me and others”.

The cleric went on to describe how “well” Khan had got on in terms of dealing with his conviction, including showing “remorse for what he’d done” and wanting to make a “fresh start”.

The concept of deradicalisation has come under criticism in recent years with doubt cast on the efficacy of related programmes, including the Kings report and anecdotal remarks from former al Qaeda operative turned MI6 spy Aimen Dean, who has said there “is no such thing as a rehabilitated jihadist”.

Mr Dean said: “The only way [a jihadist] can demonstrate that they’ve renounced violent extremism is if they have sung like a canary and provided damaging intelligence on the networks that recruited them.”

The government’s watchdog for terrorism laws, Jonathan Hall QC, admitted last month that it could not confirm if deradicalisation programmes work, with some terrorist inmates refusing to engage in the programmes or otherwise involved in disrupting the sessions.

In December, Hall had also said terrorists were “deceptive” like sex offenders and will lie to parole boards and tell them what they want to hear in order to secure their release from prison.

“It’s well documented, you get people who will say things just because they know that’s what people want to hear. And this is a really tricky issue,” Hall said.

Following another attack by an Islamist radical who had also been released from prison for terror offences, Sudesh Amman, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that “really very few” terrorists can be successfully rehabilitated.

“I think, looking at the problems we have with re-educating and reclaiming and rehabilitating people who succumb to Islamism, it’s very, very hard, and very tough, and it can happen, but the instances of success are really very few,” Mr Johnson said in February 2020.

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