UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A man suspected of carrying out an attack in which two people were stabbed at the London Bridge is a former prisoner convicted in 2012 of terrorist offenses, police said on Saturday.
The attacker, who was wearing a fake explosive belt, was shot dead by police officers in the daylight attack and saw passers-by intervening to try to control and disarm him.
Three people were also lightly wounded in the attack, which took place three weeks before the country’s general election, recalling a terrorist attack in the same area two years ago that killed eight people and wounded 48.
Police identified the man as Usman Khan, 28, not to pursue any other suspects linked to the incident.
“This person is known to the authorities and was convicted in 2012 of terrorist crimes and released from prison on parole in December 2018,” counterterrorism police chief Neil Basu said in a statement.
Khan, based in Stoke, central England, was jailed in 2012 along with eight others in a case linked to a terrorist organization inspired by al Qaeda plotted to bomb targets, including the London Stock Exchange.
Khan was sentenced to eight years in prison and convicted of preparing long-term plans involving participation in “terrorist training” in Pakistan.
Basso said the attacker had earlier taken part in an event on Friday afternoon at the Fishmongers Center, the historic building on the north side of the bridge in the center of the British capital.
“We believe that he started his attack inside before he left the building and head to the London Bridge, where he was arrested and therefore confronted and shot by the police.”
Video footage taken by witnesses and posted on Twitter showed a group of people trying to deal with someone on the ground before police arrived who shot him as he tried to get up.
A man wearing a coat and tie appeared to be moving away from the site with a knife in his hand.
“Everyone above him was trying to fix it on the ground,” tour guide Stevie Horst, who got out of his car and rushed to the scene, told the BBC.
“I saw the knife still in his hand, so I kicked it in the head. We tried to do what we could to try to grab the knife.”
The attack coincided with Black Friday, a pre-Thanksgiving market day in which markets are packed with shoppers more than any other day of the year.
– An emergency meeting.
London police chief Cressida Dick said she was “deeply saddened and saddened that our city was once again targeted by terrorism.”
The incident occurred just hours before three minors were stabbed to death on Friday in a busy commercial street in The Hague. The three wounded were able to leave the hospital and return to their homes.
It was not immediately clear if the incidents were linked.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hopes to win a majority in the Dec. 12 election for his ability to implement Brexit, praised emergency services and the public for their prompt response.
Before chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, he said he had “long argued” that it was “a mistake to allow dangerous and violent criminals to get out of prison early.”
Johnson’s Conservative Party and Labor, the largest opposition party, have pledged to put at least 20,000 more police officers on the streets.
But the Brexit process has raised questions about the extent of continued cooperation with Europe on security and intelligence matters.
– Fake belt.
Basu said Khan had been living in Staffordshire in central London and that police were searching for an address there.
During the attack, Khan was wearing an electronic cordon after benefiting from a conditional release, the Times newspaper reported, citing government sources.
He also had a device attached to his body, which police said they believed was “counterfeit explosives”.
On Friday, Khan was attending a lecture organized by the University of Cambridge at Fishmongers Hall on the rehabilitation of prisoners, entitled “Learning Together”, part of a project by academics at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge.
The deputy dean of the prestigious university, Stefan Top, expressed “frustration” at the possibility of targeting staff, students and graduates of the university in the attack.
On Friday evening, the London Bridge remained closed as people were evacuated on buses and a white truck blocked the road, as forensic experts deployed at the site.
In Washington, a White House spokesman said US President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attack and was monitoring the situation.
Trump, who has criticized the mayor of London and stabbing in the British capital, is due to visit London on Tuesday and Wednesday for a NATO summit.
On November 4, Britain lowered the alert level for a terrorist attack from “severe” to “substantial”, the lowest level in nearly five years.
In 2017, Islamist extremists ran over a truck on the London Bridge before randomly attacking people with knives in the nearby Borough Market.
Police shot and shot the three attackers wearing fake explosive vests.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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