DW-LONDON.The afternoon of Friday 29th November 2019 saw a significant terrorist incident in London. At Fishmongers Hall near London Bridge, two people were killed and another three injured by an attacker wielding a knife. Convicted terrorist Usman Khan had only been released from prison in December 2018 and was still wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he carried out the deadly attack.
khan targeted the Learning Together rehabilitation programme for ex-offenders of which he had been an active member for his attack. His two victims were named as Jack Merritt a co-ordinator for the Learning Together programme and Saskia Jones a programme volunteer. Khan apparently smuggled both his knife and the suicide vest into the building. He then took an active part in the programmes morning session before commencing his attack in the early afternoon.
The attacker brought down
Khan was prevented from causing further injuries when he was tackled by passers-by who used chairs, fire extinguishers and narwhal tusks to subdue him. He was later shot dead by police who believed his fake suicide vest could potentially be genuine and pose a serious threat of greater injury.
Vice-chancellor of Cambridge University Professor Stephen J Toope confirmed that the attack took place during an event “to mark five years of the university’s Learning Together programme”. Toope added: “What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act.”
Sentencing law challenged
The knife attack has brought an intense focus on UK sentencing policy in the run-up to the 12th December general election. Khan was convicted of terror offences in February 2012 and released at the mid-point of his sixteen-year sentence which was the standard sentencing policy at the time. After his sentencing the law was changed so that if convicted of that offence today he would have needed to serve two-thirds of his sentence, however, the law was not applied retroactively. Under questioning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that there are at least seventy-four more convicted terrorists who have been released under the same legislation. The Prime Minister has since spoken of the need for tougher sentences in terrorism cases while Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn has expressed his conviction that it is not always appropriate for a full sentence to be served.