In Depth

Streatham terror attack: what we know about Sudesh Amman

Attacker was recently released from prison after conviction on 13 terror charges

Police have been searching a London hostel where Sudesh Amman was thought to be living before he carried out yesterday’s attack in Streatham.

The 20-year-old, who was shot dead by police after he stabbed two people, left prison only days ago and had previously been noted by police as having a “fascination with dying in the name of terrorism”.

According to The Guardian, he was supposedly “knife obsessed” and was jailed in 2018, after admitting to 13 terror offences.Amman was released as recently as a week ago, halfway through his prison sentence, the paper adds.

What happened?

The Times reports that Amman was wearing a fake suicide vest when he stole a kitchen knife and attacked a man and woman in Streatham, south London.

The man who was stabbed suffered a large gash in his side, but last night was no longer considered to be in a life-threatening condition, the paper adds. The woman was said to have been in her fifties and with two boys aged around nine or ten. She was discharged from hospital last night.

Gunshots were heard soon after 2pm, with armed police confirming they had shot and killed a man soon after.

One witness, Daniel Gough, told the BBC that he was out running when shots rang out and people scattered. “There was panic, people were yelling,” he said.

“A young girl running alongside me kept asking ‘Is this what I’m meant to do?’ - she was very distressed. I saw a policeman and he yelled, telling everyone to get back. His gun was pointing in the direction of a man on the floor.”

Who is Amman?

At the time of his 2018 conviction, the then-head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, Alexis Boon, said that Amman had a “fierce interest in violence and martyrdom”, according to Sky News.

“His fascination with dying in the name of terrorism was clear in a notepad we recovered from his home,” Boon said. “Amman had scrawled his ‘life goals’ in the notepad and top of the list, above family activities, was dying a martyr and going to ‘Jannah’ - the afterlife.”

BBC News home affairs producer, Daniel De Simone, writes that Amman was jailed for three years and four months, in November 2018 after pleading guilty to six charges of possessing documents containing terrorist information and seven of disseminating terrorist publications.

The Guardian reports: “Comments from police officers at the time [of his jailing] suggested that there were serious concerns about the level of Amman’s determination to die as a martyr.”

A Whitehall source told the paper: “[Amman] was under surveillance, that is what allowed police to do their job so quickly. It could have been much worse than it was.

“There had been concerns when he was in prison but there were no powers for any authority to keep him behind bars.”

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His mother, Haleema Faraz Khan, told Sky News that he had seemed “normal” when she saw him last Thursday and that he called her hours before the attack asking her to make him mutton biryani.

She claimed her son was a “nice, polite boy” who had been radicalised online and in prison.

What has the reaction been?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a statement on Sunday evening promising a review into why Amman was released when he posed a danger to the public.

“My thoughts are with the injured victims and their loved ones following today’s horrific attack in Streatham,” Johnson said. 

“I want to pay tribute to the speed and bravery of the police who responded and confronted the attacker – preventing further injuries and violence – and all of the emergency services who came to the aid of others.”

Speaking after his first post-Brexit speech in Greenwich today, the prime minister said he had “come to the end of my patience with the idea of automatic early release” and that terrorist offenders must not be released without “some process of scrutiny”.

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