NEW BLITZ ON FREED JIHADIS
As PM reveals 74 convicted terrorists are back on the streets, police make first dramatic arrest in...
POLICE last night made the first arrest in a new blitz on convicted terrorists who are free to walk our streets.
An Islamist jailed alongside London Bridge killer Usman Khan was dramatically held for allegedly plotting a fresh atrocity.
Nazam Hussain, 34, was detained just hours after Boris Johnson announced a top-level review into the licence conditions of 74 convicted terrorists who are now out of jail.
Hussain was originally jailed in 2012 as part of a terror cell which was plotting to attack the London Stock Exchange and other high-profile targets in the City of London.
His arrest means new offences were allegedly discovered within hours of the review being demanded – raising serious questions about how convicted terrorists are supervised after being freed from jail.
The police move came two days after Khan, 28, murdered two people at a prisoner rehabilitation conference less than a year after being released
from prison. His second victim was yesterday named as former Cambridge University student Saskia Jones, 23, who had recently applied to join the police. She had been volunteering at the conference at Fishmongers’ Hall, near London Bridge, when Khan began his rampage on Friday afternoon.
Miss Jones’ family paid tribute to her ‘funny, kind, positive influence’ and said she was ‘generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people’.
Specialist officers from the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit arrested Hussain in Stoke-on-Trent yesterday. Sources confirmed he was being held ‘on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts’.
He is believed to have been freed from jail less than a year ago, at roughly the same time as Khan. In other developments it emerged that:
Khan – who schoolfriends said used to carry a photo of Osama bin Laden – was poised to begin a course at Cambridge University;
The authorities forced him to be accompanied by an escort on a previous trip to London in March but this time he was allowed to travel to the capital alone by train;
The killer had been seen driving a taxi in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent;
Britain’s most notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary claimed Khan and Hussain were ‘entirely innocent’ when they were jailed for the Stock Exchange plot in 2012.
Mr Johnson yesterday pledged to toughen anti-terror laws and said it was ‘repulsive’ that someone as dangerous as Khan had served only eight years behind bars after plotting to carry out acts of terrorism.
The Prime Minister told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive,
‘They are a threat to society’
that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years and that’s why we are going to change the law.’
He blamed Labour for changing to the law in 2008 so offenders serving Khan’s type of jail term were automatically released without a parole hearing after serving half of it.
‘I’m sure people can imagine what we’re doing to ensure that 74 other individuals who’ve been let out early on the basis of this Labour change in legislation, they are being properly invigilated to make sure there is no threat,’ the Prime Minister said.
Khan was on licence and wearing a GPS monitoring tag when he attended the conference on prisoner rehabilitation hosted by a Cambridge University scheme called Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall.
The other person killed was Jack Merritt, 25, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, who worked in the university’s criminology department.
His grieving family said he was a ‘beautiful, talented boy’ who died ‘doing what he loved’. Floral tributes were placed at the scene in memory of Mr Merritt yesterday, including a sign which read: ‘I love you forever. I am so so proud of you.’
Both the victims were killed inside the building before Khan was bundled outside where he was overpowered by members of the public and then shot dead by police.
Two other victims remain in a stable condition in hospital. A third has been allowed home.
Khan had applied for a ‘continuing education’ course at Cambridge University and was due to begin studying there within weeks. Security services are analysing all the electronic devices seized from his address in Stafford to work out how long he had been planning the attack and whether anyone else was involved.
One Whitehall source said: ‘It is still quite a puzzle as to how someone who appeared to be a reformed character decided to do this.’
Khan was among the 3,000 terrorists being monitored by the security services, but he was not under round-the- clock surveillance, it is understood.
To have monitored him any more closely would have taken resources away from someone known to be planning an attack, sources said.
Dr Rakib Ehsan, research fellow at security think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘A more uncompromising approach must be taken when dealing with those who have been found guilty of such crimes, in the name of broader public safety.
‘The 74 other released jihadists are likely to include those who continue to pose a threat to society.
‘We know Usman Khan’s original co-conspirators to be amongst the most hardened jihadists. All were convicted for involvement with plotting to carry out deadly terrorist attacks on locations including the London Stock Exchange.
‘In light of the deadly act of terror on Friday, there is a strong case for other plotters who have been released from prison, to be recalled immediately by the authorities. These are dangerous people who all could pose a similar risk to society.’
A police spokesman said: ‘Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit have arrested a man in Stoke-on-Trent. A search warrant was conducted... in connection to a wider on-going review of existing licence conditions of convicted terrorism offenders.
‘As a result of a search of his home address, the 34- year- old was arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
‘These searches continue.’