This has got to be one of the most secretive anti-terror operations where for hours London Police kept describing the happenings as just an “incident”. Then, for hours again, even when it was known this was a terrorist attack, the authorities said they “treating this as” a terrorist attack. Finally, when the indiscriminate stabber was shot dead, for hours, they did not reveal his identity. Well, for all that caution and political correctness, the world now knows the dead terrorist was Usman Khan.
Saying that Usman Khan was a criminal on record would be an understatement. He was no regular criminal. The crimes for which he had been jailed before were all terror offences. He had served a sentence for conspiring to attack the London Stock Exchange in 2010. There were eight other terrorists in his gang. They hailed from Stoke-on-Trent, Cardiff and London. After being arrested, they were tried and sentenced in February 2012 at the Woolwich crown court.
The sinister Usman Khan, with his family in Kashmir, had a long-term plan. The court had said it was to establish a terrorist military training facility.
While Usman Khan was all of 19 when he was caught on the previous occasion, his accomplices Nazam Hussain and Mohammed Shahjahan and he were identified by Justice Sir Alan Fraser Wilkie (retired 31 January 2017) as “more serious jihadis” than the others. He was never supposed to be released, but the authority in its wisdom withdrew this condition of jailing him later. He emerged from the jail last year in December.
As per the plan of the gang, Usman Khan and Nazam Hussain would leave the UK in January 2011 to receive the terror training first.
Usman Khan was one of the three terrorists from Stoke who had visited Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to get financiers to sponsor their diabolical plan, help in the construction of a terrorist training camp in Kashmir and then train in it–according to a July 2013 report the independent reviewer of terrorism. They carried propaganda literature of Inspire, an English-language magazine of al Qaidah.
One of their plots was to post letter bombs. In the particular plot for which they were convicted and sentenced, Usman Khan and gang had planned to set off a pipe bomb in London Stock Exchange toilets and Stoke pubs. They had scribbled a list of their targets that included Boris Johnson (now the prime minister), the then London mayor, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, two rabbis, the stock exchange and the US embassy in London.
How they spread hate for Jews can be gauged from the fact that when police bugged Usman Khan’s house in Persia Walk, Stoke-on-Trent, they were heard saying that the Holocaust was a myth and that the Jews killed in that dark chapter of history numbered less than 10,000. They considered, albeit not wrongly, that Adolf Hitler was, in effect, a sympathiser of Muslims. Within the gang, Usman Khan & Co would say Hitler believed Jews were dangerous.
The police had submitted to Justice Wilkie’s court evidence that Usman & Co planned to establish a madrassah, which is allowed in Britain, but the Islamic school-cum-seminary would suffice as a firearms training centre.
Usman and gang would urge Muslims in Britain that Kashmiris earned a pittance as compared to them and, therefore, even by contributing from their unemployment allowance, they could serve the cause of jihad in Kashmir.
In Justice Wilkie’s words, the gang wanted to begin a “serious, long-term venture in terrorism”. The judge read out in his sentence, “It was envisaged by them all that ultimately they and the other recruits may return to the UK as trained and experienced terrorists available to perform terrorist attacks in this country.”
Only two in the gang of nine terrorists were born in Bangladesh. Whereas just three cops were enough to gun Usman Khan down on London Bridge, his previous encounter with the law involved mobilisation of 1,000 police personnel.