Ji­hadi who had pic­ture of Bin Laden on his school ex­er­cise book


Scottish Daily Mail - - New Blitz on Terror - By Arthur Martin, Claire Duf­fin and Richard Mars­den

THE Lon­don Bridge ter­ror­ist used to walk around school with a pic­ture of Osama Bin Laden at­tached to the front of an ex­er­cise book, it emerged yes­ter­day.

Us­man Khan was also spot­ted laugh­ing at videos of the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks in New York with other re­li­gious fanatics in a cafe when he was just 14.

In the same year, he started preach­ing Is­lamic ex­trem­ism on the streets of Stoke on be­half of An­jem Choudary’s banned ter­ror group al-Muha­jiroun.

Khan, who called him­self Abu Saif, was pho­tographed wav­ing an Al Qaeda flag as he ranted into a mega­phone.

The Bri­tish-born son of Pak­istani im­mi­grants from the Kash­mir re­gion, he had three el­der sib­lings – two brothers and a sis­ter.

De­spite the hard-work­ing ethos of his taxidriv­ing fa­ther Taj Kahn and his mother Parveen Begum, he left Hay­wood High School in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, with few qual­i­fi­ca­tions. His weekly dis­tri­bu­tion of dis­turb­ing lit­er­a­ture re­sulted in his fam­ily’s mod­est three-bed­room ter­race home in the Co­bridge area of Stoke be­ing raided by anti-ter­ror po­lice when he was just 17.

Shortly af­ter the raid, an in­dig­nant Khan said: ‘I’ve been born and bred in Eng­land, in Stoke-on-Trent, in Co­bridge, and all the com­mu­nity knows me and they will know... I ain’t no ter­ror­ist.’ The teenager was in­ves­ti­gated for pro­mot­ing ex­trem­ist views and rad­i­cal­is­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

But af­ter a 20-month probe, the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice told of­fi­cers they were un­likely to get a con­vic­tion with the ev­i­dence they had. In­stead of act­ing as a warn­ing, the lack of crim­i­nal charges against Khan sim­ply em­bold­ened him.

He vowed: ‘We are go­ing to carry on un­til the last breath, be­cause we be­lieve this is the truth.’

The ex­trem­ist was true to his word. He spoke at a con­fer­ence about why Bri­tain should adopt Sharia law and be­gan a cam­paign to stage a highly in­flam­ma­tory march through the town of Woot­ton Bas­sett in Wilt­shire, where Bri­tish sol­diers who died in Iraq and Afghanista­n were hon­oured.

Although the protest never took place, his mem­ber­ship of Is­lam4UK – an­other of Choudary’s banned ex­trem­ist groups – prompted the se­cu­rity ser­vices to launch a se­cond covert surveillan­ce oper­a­tion on him in 2010.

Bugs in­stalled by MI5 in Khan’s home recorded him dis­cussing how to make a pipe bomb af­ter see­ing a ‘recipe’ in an Al Qaeda mag­a­zine.

He also called non-Mus­lims ‘dogs’, dis­cussed buy­ing weapons and spoke about at­tack­ing pubs and clubs in the Stoke area by leav­ing ex­plo­sives in the lava­to­ries.

Khan and two oth­ers, who called them­selves the ‘Stoke Three’, con­tacted rad­i­cals in Lon­don and Cardiff on Paltalk, an in­ter­net mes­sag­ing ser­vice.

The men, dubbed the ‘nine li­ons’, met at a Vic­to­rian boat­ing lake in Wales to dis­cuss how to train home-grown ter­ror­ists, em­bark on let­ter-bomb cam­paigns, blow up pubs and use a pipe bomb to kill and maim peo­ple at the Lon­don Stock Ex­change.

Khan and oth­ers from his home­town be­came ob­sessed with the idea of set­ting up a ter­ror­ist train­ing fa­cil­ity un­der the guise of cre­at­ing a school on land owned by his fam­ily in Kash­mir.

While the rest of the cell wanted to be­gin at­tacks im­me­di­ately, the au­thor­i­ties were much more con­cerned about the so­phis­ti­ca­tion dis­played by the ‘Stoke Three’. Dur­ing the sub­se­quent trial, judge Mr Jus­tice Wilkie found they were pur­su­ing a ‘long-term and sus­tained path [to be­come] more se­ri­ous and ef­fec­tive ter­ror­ists’.

Af­ter his ar­rest, Khan was the first to plead guilty to plan­ning a ter­ror camp, know­ing he would get a re­duc­tion in sen­tence.

In 2012, he was im­pris­oned for pub­lic pro­tec­tion for 16 years but could only be con­sid­ered for re­lease if a pa­role board was con­vinced he posed no threat.

Mr Jus­tice Wilkie sin­gled Khan out from the other ex­trem­ists on trial be­cause he was clearly a de­vi­ous and schem­ing man ded­i­cated to his hate­ful ide­ol­ogy.

He wrote that Khan’s ‘abil­ity to act on a strate­gic level’ and to clev­erly plan for fu­ture ter­ror at­tacks meant he should be re­leased only if and when a pa­role board was con­vinced he no longer posed a threat.

But as soon as he was be­hind bars, Khan wrote a let­ter from his cell in Bel­marsh prison in south­east Lon­don ask­ing to take part in a de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion course.

‘I would like to do such a course so I can prove to the au­thor­i­ties, my fam­ily and soic­ity [sic] in gen­eral that I don’t carry the views I had be­fore my ar­rest and also I can prove that at the time I was im­ma­ture, and now I am much more ma­ture and want to live my life as a good Mus­lim and also a good cit­i­zen of Bri­tain,’ he wrote.

The fol­low­ing year, three Ap­peal Court judges, led by Sir Brian Leve­son, con­cluded it was wrong for Mr Jus­tice Wilkie to have handed Khan and his Stoke gang mem­bers tougher sen­tences than their Lon­don coun­ter­parts.

Sir Brian gave Khan a de­ter­mi­nate 16-year jail term in­stead, mean­ing he would be au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased af­ter eight years.

There was no as­sess­ment by the Pa­role Board be­fore he left White­moor prison in Cam­bridgeshir­e in December last year. Un­der the terms of his li­cence he was re­quired to wear an elec­tronic tag, and was as­signed a spe­cial­ist anti-ex­trem­ist pa­role of­fi­cer, whom he met twice weekly.

He was or­dered to live in Staithe­ford House bail hos­tel in Stafford. But months later he was able to move into a £430-amonth bed­sit in a dow­nat-heel three storey­house nearby.

Khan joined Learn­ing To­gether, a pro­gramme run by Cam­bridge Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Crim­i­nol­ogy that

‘We are go­ing to carry on un­til the last breath’

seeks to re­ha­bil­i­tate pris­on­ers with work­shops on story telling. Such was his ap­par­ent turn­around, the pres­ti­gious univer­sity en­cour­aged Khan to ap­ply for a place as an un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent. And in an as­ton­ish­ing report called Learn­ing To­gether by staff at White­moor prison, Khan’s ap­par­ent re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion was used as a case study pro­mot­ing its work. Along­side a pic­ture of the ter­ror­ist, it said: ‘We have equipped Us­man with a [lap­top] so that he can con­tinue his stud­ies and his writ­ing, which he started in White­moor.’ Ear­lier this year, Khan at­tended a White­hall event un­der po­lice es­cort. He ap­peared ea­ger and will­ing to en­gage with the Gov­ern­ment’s Pre­vent and De­sis­tance and Disen­gage­ment pro­grammes, in­tended to de-rad­i­calise ex­trem­ists.

The fa­natic was also in­vited to at­tend the Cam­bridge Univer­sity crim­i­nal jus­tice sem­i­nar near Lon­don Bridge on Fri­day.

He was given special dis­pen­sa­tion to travel to Lon­don be­cause the terms of Khan’s early re­lease from jail meant he was not al­lowed to travel be­yond a cer­tain dis­tance from his home in Stafford.

This time he was without an es­cort – al­low­ing him to fa­tally stab two peo­ple and wound three oth­ers be­fore be­ing shot dead by po­lice at the age of 28 as he lay on the bridge wear­ing a fake sui­cide vest.

Khan is thought to have trav­elled by train to Lon­don Eus­ton sta­tion from Stafford rail­way sta­tion on Fri­day morn­ing. Po­lice re­trieved the CCTV from the sta­tion within hours of the at­tack. De­tec­tives have also vis­ited the su­per­mar­kets close to his home amid con­cerns he bought the knives he used dur­ing the at­tack from one of them.

Yes­ter­day, spe­cial­ist foren­sic of­fi­cers were seen car­ry­ing out a fin­ger­tip search of Khan’s home in Stafford, as well as his par­ents’ home in Etruria, a sub­urb of Stoke.

A team of six of­fi­cers spent sev­eral hours at the new-build semi, and were seen car­ry­ing out items which were then taken away for fur­ther anal­y­sis.

Neigh­bours said they last saw Khan on Thurs­day, just 24 hours be­fore he was shot dead by po­lice.

They said he was in the driver’s seat of a pri­vate hire taxi and ‘act­ing sus­pi­ciously’ by ‘star­ing’ at peo­ple as they walked past. One res­i­dent, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We’ve seen him around here a bit re­cently. I know him be­cause I went to the same school as him.

‘Me and my wife saw him last Thurs­day. He was in a pri­vate hire taxi parked round the cor­ner from his dad’s home on the end. She no­ticed be­cause she said he was star­ing at ev­ery­one walk­ing past, in­clud­ing her. I’d seen him ear­lier so God knows how long he was sit­ting out there.

‘I’d seen him in a sil­ver taxi be­fore but he was in a black car last week. In the past I’ve seen him with some kids in the car. I think he was drop­ping them off at school.

‘It’s mad to think the day af­ter we saw him act­ing strange he was on the ram­page in Lon­don.’

Rhys Miller, a former class­mate, wrote on Face­book: ‘Look who it is – the guy who walked around school with a pic­ture of Osama bin Laden on the front of his plan­ner and used to sit in the cor­ner of the cafe with 20 of his mates watch­ing videos of the planes go­ing into the Twin Tow­ers.’ He said Khan’s ex­trem­ism was ‘brushed un­der the car­pet’ and ‘bla­tant red flags’ were ‘ig­nored’.

Khan was used as a case study to pro­mote the Cam­bridge jail re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme

Mugshot: Po­lice photo of Khan in 2012

Pic­ture: BPM ME­DIA Preach­ing ex­trem­ism: Khan hand­ing out leaflets Khan, who called him­self Abu Saif, spoke at a con­fer­ence about adopt­ing Sharia in Bri­tain AT CON­FER­ENCE PRO­MOT­ING SHARIA LAW Rant­ing: Us­man Khan on the streets of Stoke

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