On Sunday 2nd February, a man was shot dead by police after he attacked members of the public in South London.
He was seen entering a shop just before 14:00 on Sunday, where he was believed to have stolen a knife, once outside the shop he began his attack.
Eyewitness reports state that the man was seen with ‘a knife as big as his forearm” and silver canisters on his chest. Another witness heard a woman screaming, who was with a baby in a pushchair, and with two other young boys, prior to seeing her being stabbed.
Three people in total were treated at the scene, and then taken to hospital. One of which has life threatening injuries, another who has minor injuries, and a third with minor injuries caused by glass following shots from the police firearm.
It is reported that the Met Police were extremely quick to respond. Within minutes the main road was flooded with police officers and specialist units. The attacker was shot dead within moments of launching the terror attack.
Who was the attacker?
The attacker has been named as Sudesh Amman, a 20 year old male, who’s last address was in Harrow. Amman was released from prison 2 weeks ago after serving a short sentence for terrorist offences. He had been on the police radar for a while, had posted terrorist based propaganda and was under surveillance at the time of the attack.
Amman came to the attention of the police in April 2018 after posting extremist material, expressing support for Isis, and sending beheading videos to his girlfriend. He also wrote about the desire to conduct a terror attack stating “if you can’t make a bomb because family, friends or spies are watching or suspecting you, take a knife, Molotov, sound bombs, or a car at night and attack.”
At the Old Bailey, during his conviction, a notepad belonging to Amman was bought out. Within this notepad Amman had scrawled his life goals. These goals consisted of above all, dying a martyr so that he should reach the afterlife, and dying in the name of terrorism.
In December 2018, Amman was convicted of various terror offences, and was given a fixed-term sentence of 3 years and 4 months, of which he was only required to serve half.
Why was he released early?
It isn’t necessarily the case that he was released ‘early’, he was just released in accordance to the current UK law. Some of the details of Amman’s imprisonment and release are not yet clear to the public, however, it seems that he was on a normal fixed- term sentence, therefore eligible for release halfway through his term. The only way, under current law, that early release would not be on the cards would be if he had committed another offence whilst in prison.
It does seem that there were a number of conditions attached to his release. He was on full surveillance, and those tailing him were ordered to carry pistols, although it is not clear if this was for their own personal protection, or if they were intending to make an arrest.
Is anything going to change?
Well, yes, new planned legislation is coming in stating that those who commit acts of terrorism must now complete two thirds of their sentence rather than half. Boris Johnson has also said that although changes in law do not generally apply to existing prisoners, he thinks it should apply to all convicted terrorists, including those currently serving a sentence. The new law has been put through on an emergency basis, and the legislation will come in as soon as possible.
The question is will this new law make any difference? Amman was held at HMP Belmarsh, and his mother has said that he became more radicalised whilst he was imprisoned here. HMP Belmarsh is home to many convicted terrorists, as it is the most secure prison in the UK. Was his time here actually feeding the extremist ideology?
Many discussions have surfaced in the last few months as to whether it is actually possible to reform terrorist criminals, or if prison actually increases the hatred for nationals and the toxic extremist attitude.
So, what should happen? Should convicted terrorists, who have no acceptance of intervention, be kept in prison indefinitely? Or would this just add to the current overcrowding issue in our prisons?