London stabbing suspect served time in prison for terrorism, police say


London police said Saturday that the suspect in the deadly stabbing attack the previous day had served time in prison on terrorism charges before being released late last year.

Police confirmed that 28-year-old Usman Khan was convicted in 2012 on terrorism charges and released in December 2018 “on license,” meaning he met certain conditions for his release, according to The Associated Press.

Several local media outlets reported that Khan wore an electronic ankle bracelet at the time of the attack, which killed two people and wounded three at London Bridge. Police officers who responded to the scene shot and killed Khan.

Khan was convicted of being part of a group that was accused of planning major attacks on sites including the Parliament, the U.S. embassy, then-London mayor and current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and two rabbis.

The group denied plotting the attacks, but Khan admitted to a more minor charge of engaging in conduct for the preparation of acts of terrorism. He had been secretly recorded planning attacks and discussing martyrdom, according to the AP.

Neil Basu, London’s police counterterrorism chief, said that Khan was attending a program intended to educate prisoners when he launched the attack on Friday afternoon.

Johnson said following the attack that he had “long argued” that it was a “mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early.” He also announced that extra police patrols on the streets would be conducted “for reassurance purposes,” according to the AP. 

Khan was ultimately wrestled to the ground by bystanders during the attack before being shot dead by police. The violence took place two weeks before the United Kingdom’s Dec. 12 national election and a week before U.S. and European leaders head to London for a NATO summit.

The White House on Friday expressed support for the U.K. following the attack on Friday, saying in a statement that “the United States strongly condemns all horrific acts of violence on innocent people, and we pledge our full support to our ally, the United Kingdom.”


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