PM’s fury over 70 freed ter­ror­ists

John­son blasts cat­a­logue of fail­ures over London Bridge ji­hadist and prom­ises to scrap ‘failed’ early-re­lease scheme

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front Page - By Ed­ward Mal­nick and Martin Evans

BORIS JOHN­SON has or­dered a re­view of dozens of vi­o­lent ter­ror­ists re­leased from pri­son in re­cent years, as he at­tacked the “failed ap­proaches” that led to the early re­lease of a con­vict who stabbed two peo­ple to death in the City of London.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice (MoJ) launched an ur­gent in­quiry to ex­am­ine the li­cence con­di­tions of up to 70 vi­o­lent ter­ror­ists be­lieved to have been freed from jail.

Ter­ror­ists out on li­cence are ex­pected to face more fre­quent meet­ings with au­thor­i­ties from to­mor­row, with in­creased re­stric­tions. The move came as the Prime Min­is­ter pledged to make ter­ror­ists serve “ev­ery day” of their pri­son sen­tences, as part of a plan to help pre­vent fur­ther at­tacks.

Mr John­son said he was “an­gry” that 28-year-old Us­man Khan had been free to em­bark on a deadly ram­page on Fri­day, hav­ing been jailed just seven years ago over a ter­ror plot. He was re­leased au­to­mat­i­cally in De­cem­ber 2018 only half way through his 16-year sen­tence.

Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil) last night claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. The Sun­day Tele­graph un­der­stands that ear­lier this year Khan at­tended a White­hall event un­der po­lice es­cort. He was re­garded as a model con­vict, who en­gaged will­ingly with the Govern­ment’s Pre­vent and De­sis­tance and Dis­en­gage­ment pro­grammes.

When he was in­vited to at­tend the crim­i­nal jus­tice sem­i­nar on Fri­day, or­gan­ised by Cam­bridge Univer­sity, it was not re­garded to be a prob­lem. In­sist­ing that the cur­rent sys­tem has “got to end”, Mr John­son pledged to change the law to en­sure that the sen­tences handed down for all ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism of­fences rep­re­sent the amount of time “ac­tu­ally served”, to pre­vent a re­peat oc­cur­rence. He also said that the Con­ser­va­tives would in­tro­duce a min­i­mum sen­tence of 14 years for any­one con­victed of se­ri­ous ter­ror of­fences, and re­it­er­ated a man­i­festo pledge to re­form hu­man rights laws to “shift the bal­ance in favour of our se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices”.

More than 500 pris­on­ers con­victed of ter­ror of­fences have been re­leased since the Sept 11 at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to MoJ fig­ures. Around 70 of those were in­volved in plot­ting or car­ry­ing out at­tacks. An MoJ spokesman said last night: “Work is al­ready ad­vanced on re­view­ing the li­cence con­di­tions of ev­ery ter­ror­ist of­fender, mak­ing sure con­di­tions are as tough as they need to be. We are also step­ping up our al­ready fre­quent meet­ings with these of­fend­ers.”

Dame Louise Casey, the for­mer in­te­gra­tion tsar, said: “We have got to stop treat­ing ter­ror­ists, who have been con­victed of plot­ting to kill us, in ex­actly the same way as crim­i­nals who have been jailed for other of­fences, and au­to­mat­i­cally re­leas­ing them at the half­way point. It makes no sense.”

Khan was re­leased from pri­son on li­cence de­spite a judge con­clud­ing in 2012 that he had em­barked on an “am­bi­tious” and “se­ri­ous ji­hadist agenda”.

It emerged last night that he had been granted per­mis­sion to travel to London from Stafford­shire by the Na­tional Pro­ba­tion Ser­vice and po­lice. He launched the at­tack at a con­fer­ence on

pris­oner re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, tak­ing place at Fish­mon­gers’ Hall near the north end of London Bridge.

Yes­ter­day Priti Pa­tel, the Home Sec­re­tary, blamed Labour for Khan’s early re­lease, and Mr John­son said: “What I have seen over the last 24 hours has made me an­gry – it’s ab­so­lutely clear that we can’t carry on with the failed ap­proaches of the past.” Mr John­son cited the Tories’ man­i­festo pledge to end the au­to­matic re­lease of pris­on­ers half­way through their sen­tences for those jailed for se­ri­ous crimes.

“If you are con­victed of a se­ri­ous ter­ror­ist of­fence, there should be a manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tence of 14 years – and some should never be re­leased.

Fur­ther, for all ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ist of­fences the sen­tence an­nounced by the judge must be the time ac­tu­ally served – these crim­i­nals must serve ev­ery day of their sen­tence, with no ex­cep­tions,” he said.

“These sim­ple changes ... would have pre­vented this at­tack. I be­lieve they will help stop fur­ther at­tacks.”

Mr John­son claimed that Labour plans to re­view the pow­ers ex­er­cised by the se­cu­rity ser­vices would “make it more dif­fi­cult for our se­cu­rity ser­vices to stop peo­ple who want to do us harm.”

Jeremy Cor­byn “wants to give more power to hu­man rights lawyers, which would make us less safe,” he said.

Yes­ter­day Mr Cor­byn de­scribed the steps that led to Khan’s re­lease as a “com­plete dis­as­ter”, call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “the way all as­pects of our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem op­er­ate.” In a speech to­day, Mr Cor­byn will say po

lice should be able to use “what­ever force is nec­es­sary” if they be­lieve an at­tacker is wear­ing a suicide vest.

He will blame 10 years of suc­ces­sive bud­get cuts for leav­ing “gaps” which have led to “missed chances to in­ter­vene in the lives of peo­ple who go on to com­mit in­ex­cus­able acts”.

Mr John­son re­jected any crit­i­cism of of­fi­cers for shoot­ing the at­tacker, say­ing: “They had to make split-sec­ond de­ci­sions.”

In Feb 2012 Khan and eight oth­ers pleaded guilty to a va­ri­ety of ter­ror­ist of­fences. He was orig­i­nally given an in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tence with a min­i­mum term of eight years. Un­der this type of sen­tence, which was abol­ished in Dec 2012, pris­on­ers would re­main in jail un­til it was found they were safe to be re­leased. But the sen­tence was dropped by the Court of Ap­peal in 2013 af­ter Khan ap­pealed. Sir Brian Leve­son, then a Lord Jus­tice of Ap­peal, ruled that the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion had “wrongly char­ac­terised” Khan and two other men as more dan­ger­ous than the re­main­ing de­fen­dants. Sir Brian ruled that the three men should have been given ex­tended de­ter­mi­nate sen­tences, stat­ing that Khan had to serve 16 years. This sen­tence en­tailed an au­to­matic re­lease af­ter Khan served half of the time.

The Pa­role Board con­firmed that it had no in­volve­ment in his re­lease and that Khan “ap­pears to have been re­leased au­to­mat­i­cally on li­cence”. The Sun­day Tele­graph un­der­stands that the other eight mem­bers of Khan’s London Stock Ex­change ter­ror plot gang are be­ing kept un­der strict sur­veil­lance by se­cu­rity ser­vices fol­low­ing the at­tack.

Cam­bridge grad­u­ate Jack Mer­ritt, 25, right, was named as one of the victims of the ter­ror at­tacker Us­man Khan, above

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.