Bri­tish po­lice foil freed ter­ror­ist’s at­tack plot

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - JAC­QUELIN MAGNAY

Within hours of a crack­down fol­low­ing Fri­day’s ter­ror at­tack in Lon­don, Bri­tish po­lice have dis­cov­ered an­other early-re­leased ter­ror­ist was plan­ning and pre­par­ing a ter­ror­ist act.

Nazam Hus­sain, 34, was de­tained for al­legedly plot­ting an at­tack af­ter West Mid­lands po­lice searched his house and found ev­i­dence of a ter­ror plot. It fol­lowed ur­gent de­mands by Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son for a re­view of the cases of 74 pris­on­ers au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased af­ter serv­ing half their jail sen­tences. Hus­sain was an as­so­ciate of Us­man Khan, shot dead by po­lice af­ter mur­der­ing two young Bri­tons on Fri­day.

Within hours of a crack­down fol­low­ing Fri­day’s ter­ror at­tack in Lon­don, Bri­tish po­lice have dis­cov­ered an­other early-re­leased ter­ror­ist was plan­ning and pre­par­ing a ter­ror­ist act.

Nazam Hus­sain, 34, was de­tained for al­legedly plot­ting a fresh at­tack af­ter West Mid­lands po­lice searched his house and found ev­i­dence of a ter­ror plot.

It fol­lowed ur­gent de­mands by Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son for an im­me­di­ate re­view of the cases of 74 pris­on­ers who were au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased af­ter serv­ing half of their jail sen­tences. How­ever, Mr John­son has been ac­cused of us­ing the at­tack to boost his stocks in the elec­tion cam­paign.

Hus­sain was a close as­so­ciate of Us­man Khan, 28, the man shot dead by po­lice af­ter mur­der­ing two young Bri­tons in Fri­day’s Fish­mon­gers Hall and Lon­don Bridge at­tack. Their fam­i­lies came from the same area of Pak­istan­con­trolled Kash­mir.

Hus­sain and Khan had been sen­tenced in 2012 for the same ter­ror plot to blow up the Lon­don

Stock Ex­change, both given in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tences that were over­turned on ap­peal and had also been re­leased from jail on the same day last December.

Khan, still wear­ing an elec­tronic tag, had fooled those around him into be­liev­ing he was no longer a threat be­fore car­ry­ing out his sav­agery.

He had even been used by the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge’s Learn­ing To­gether pro­gram as a poster boy, pro­mot­ing how stu­dents had run 10km to raise money to buy him a com­puter to learn on.

But on Fri­day he strapped knives to his hands and at­tached a fake sui­cide vest dur­ing a lunchtime break in the Learn­ing To­gether Lon­don meet­ing be­fore em­bark­ing on his stab­bing ram­page. Khan killed one of the pro­gram lead­ers, Jack Mer­ritt, 25, and a Cam­bridge grad­u­ate vol­un­teer, Saskia Jones, 23. Three oth­ers were in­jured, in­clud­ing Lukasz, the Pol­ish chef who is to be hon­oured for his brav­ery by Poland.

Lukasz, whose sur­name has not been re­leased be­cause of se­cu­rity fears, pulled the nar­whal tusk off the wall to al­low oth­ers in the hall time to es­cape and he was stabbed five times on his arm.

Mr Mer­ritt’s fa­ther, David, warned Mr John­son not to crack down on other pris­on­ers as it would not be what his son would want. He later tweeted: “Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his col­league’s photos, to pro­mote your vile pro­pa­ganda. Jack stood against ev­ery­thing you stand for — ha­tred, divi­sion, ig­no­rance.”

Mr John­son told the BBC that Khan’s re­lease was nec­es­sary un­der the law. “The au­to­matic early re­lease scheme un­der which he was sen­tenced — that was the re­al­ity — and that was brought in by Labour with the sup­port of Jeremy Cor­byn and the rest of the Labour Party,” Mr John­son said.

He added: “I think it is ridicu­lous, I think it is re­pul­sive, 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.”

Mr John­son was try­ing to make the dis­tinc­tion be­tween his Tory gov­ern­ment, in power for a few months, and the Tory gov­ern­ments of David Cameron and Theresa May be­ing in power for 10 years. Mr John­son said “prob­a­bly about 74” con­victed ter­ror­ists had been re­leased un­der the au­to­matic halv­ing of prison time, but as­sured the pub­lic, say­ing they all would be prop­erly in­vig­i­lated to make sure there was no threat.

Mr John­son’s stance con­trasts with Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, who said on Sky News that con­victed ter­ror­ists should not nec­es­sar­ily serve their full sen­tence, call­ing in­stead for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

Later, Mr Cor­byn blamed fund­ing cuts to pro­ba­tion, men­tal health and youth ser­vices, for cre­at­ing “missed chances to in­ter­vene in the lives of peo­ple who go on to com­mit in­ex­cus­able acts”.

Mr Cor­byn also blamed the Iraq war and other Bri­tish for­eign poli­cies for fu­elling ter­ror­ism. “Real se­cu­rity doesn’t only come from strong laws and in­tel­li­gence, it comes also from ef­fec­tive pub­lic ser­vices that have the fund­ing they need,” he said.

Bri­tain’s Daily Tele­graph re­vealed that Mr Cor­byn had protested against ter­ror sus­pects be­ing ex­tra­dited to the US, lead­ing a 2012 rally ad­ja­cent to that of hate preacher An­jem Choudary.

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