2019 London Bridge stabbing
|2019 London Bridge stabbing|
|Location||London Bridge, London, United Kingdom|
|Date||29 November 2019 |
13:58 GMT (UTC-0)
|Target||People at Fishmongers' Hall and on London Bridge|
|Deaths||3 (including the attacker)|
On 29 November 2019, five people were stabbed, two fatally, in Central London. The attacker, Usman Khan, had been released from prison in 2018 on licence after serving a sentence for terrorist offences.
Khan was attending an offender rehabilitation conference in Fishmongers' Hall when he threatened to detonate what turned out to be a fake suicide vest and started attacking people with two knives taped to his wrists, killing two of the conference participants by stabbing them in the chest. Several people fought back, some attacking Khan with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk as he fled the building and emerged on to London Bridge, where he was partially disarmed by a plain-clothes police officer. He was restrained by members of the public until additional police officers arrived, pulled away those restraining him, and shot him dead.
A conference on offender rehabilitation was held on 29 November 2019 in Fishmongers' Hall, at the northern end of London Bridge, in the City of London, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Learning Together, a programme run by the Cambridge Institute of Criminology to help offenders reintegrate into society following their release from prison. Learning Together was set up in 2014 by University of Cambridge academics Ruth Armstrong and Amy Ludlow from the Faculty of Law and Institute of Criminology to "bring together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions to study alongside each other in inclusive and transformative learning communities" to enable students and prisoners to work together.
Former prisoner Usman Khan had been invited to the conference as a previous participant in the programme, and although banned from entering London under the terms of his release, he was granted a one-day exemption to attend.
At 13:58 on 29 November, City of London Police were called to Fishmongers' Hall after Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest, threatened to blow up the hall. Holding two kitchen knives taped to his wrists, he began stabbing people inside the building. Several fought back, including a chef working at Fishmongers' Hall who grabbed a 1.5 metre long narwhal tusk from the wall to use as a weapon, and a convicted murderer attending the conference on day release. Khan fled and began stabbing pedestrians outside on the north side of the bridge.
Several people were injured before members of the public, including a tour guide and a plain-clothes British Transport Police officer, later seen walking away with a knife, restrained and disarmed Khan on the bridge. One of the people who stepped in to fight the attacker drove him back by spraying a fire extinguisher. Armed officers of the City of London Police arrived at 14:03 and surrounded the attacker, who at the time was being restrained by a Ministry of Justice communications worker attending the rehabilitation meeting. Police pulled this person away to provide a clear shot, before firing twice. Khan died at the scene.
A Transport for London bus which had stopped adjacent to the site of the shooting was found to have damage to both its front and rear windows, possibly caused, according to the Metropolitan Police, by a ricocheting bullet.
Three of the victims were associated with Cambridge University's Learning Together prison-rehabilitation programme; two died and one was injured. The two who died from their stab wounds were Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. Merritt was a 25-year-old law and criminology graduate and University of Cambridge administration officer from Cottenham. Jones, 23 years old, was a former University of Cambridge student from Stratford-upon-Avon.
Merritt was a course coordinator for Learning Together. His father said he "would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily". Jones was a volunteer at the Learning Together event. Funeral services for Merritt and Jones were conducted on 20 December 2019.
Two other women were seriously injured, while the chef who stopped the attacker was stabbed but had less serious injuries.
The police, ambulance, and fire services attended the scene and a major incident was declared. A large police cordon was set up in the area and residents were told to stay away. Police closed both Monument Underground station and London Bridge station after the attack. The police reported that there had been no prior intelligence of the attack.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, returned to Downing Street following the incident, after campaigning in his constituency for the forthcoming general election. Johnson commended the "immense bravery" of the emergency services and members of the public, and claimed that anyone involved in the attack would be "hunted down". The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, thanked the emergency services and members of the public who helped to restrain the attacker, saying they had shown "breathtaking heroism". The Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats temporarily suspended campaigning for the general election in London. A parliamentary election hustings event scheduled to be held at Great St Mary's Church in Cambridge on 30 November was cancelled and replaced by a memorial vigil for the victims of the attack.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick made a statement following the attack describing events. She said there would be an increased police presence on the streets and that cordons in the London Bridge area would remain in place. An appeal was made for the public to submit any film or picture evidence or information that could assist the investigation.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the attack. Its news agency, Amaq, claimed Usman Khan was one of its fighters. A janaza prayer for Khan was held at a mosque in Birmingham, and he was buried in his family's village in Pakistan.
London Bridge was closed until the early hours of the following Monday for forensic investigation of the scene. Two properties, in Stafford, where Khan lived, and in Stoke-on-Trent, were searched by police.
An inquest was opened on 4 December, at the Central Criminal Court in London, and was subsequently adjourned. When it resumes, at a date to be determined, it is due be overseen by the chief coroner for England and Wales. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is holding an investigation into the shooting. In a separate investigation Staffordshire Police are also under IOPC scrutiny.
The attacker was identified as Usman Khan, a 28-year-old British national from Stoke-on-Trent of Pakistani descent. Khan appears to have left school with no qualifications after spending part of his late teens in Pakistan. He was known to police and had links to Islamist extremist groups. In December 2018 he had been automatically released from prison on licence, where he was serving a 16-year sentence for terrorism offences, and was wearing an electronic tag.
Khan had been part of a plot, inspired by Al-Qaeda, to establish a terrorist camp on his family's land in Kashmir and bomb the London Stock Exchange. The plot was disrupted by MI5 and the police, as part of MI5's Operation Guava (police Operation Norbury), and Khan was given an indeterminate sentence. Of the nine men involved, Khan was the youngest at 19 and according to Mr Justice Wilkie, Khan and two others were “more serious jihadis” than the others. In 2013, his sentence was revised after an appeal, and he was ordered to serve at least 8 years of his new 16-year sentence, with a 5-year extended licence allowing recall to prison.
According to the anti-extremism group Hope not Hate, Khan was a supporter of Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist group with which scores of terrorists were involved. He was a student and a personal friend of Anjem Choudary, an Islamist and terrorism supporter. Khan had previously participated in the Learning Together programme.
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