On November 29th, 2 were killed and 3 were injured in a stabbing at Fishmongers’ Hall in Central London. The attack took place during an offender rehabilitation conference in Fishmongers’ Hall.
The attacker, identified as 28-year-old Usman Khan was released from prison on parole in December 2018 after spending 8 years in prison for terrorism. Usman Khan was jailed for an al-Qaida inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and was wearing an electronic tag at the time of the attack. He released from jail on parole half way through a 16-year sentence.
Minutes before 2 PM local time, Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest threatened to blow up Fishmoners’ Hall. He had two kitchen knives taped to his wrists, similar to the 2017 London Bridge attack.
The two victims of the stabbing are 23-year-old Saskia Jones and 25-year-old Jack Merritt.
ISIS claimed that the attack was carried out by one of its fighters, though it provided no evidence.
Several attendees fought back, some attacking Khan with a fire extinguisher. Another man, identified as Polish chef Łukasz – wielded a 5ft narwhal tusk taken from Fishmongers’ Hall while he chased Khan on the street, when he reached London Bridge.
He was restrained by members of the public until additional police officers arrived, pulled away those restraining him, and shot him dead.
Among those who pinned down the attacker was James Ford, 42, who is also thought to have tried to save the life of a woman who had been stabbed.
Both victims were graduates from Cambridge and were focused on victim assistance, law and criminology.
“Both were graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in Learning Together program — Jack as a coordinator and Saskia as a volunteer,” police said.
Saskia Jones was a Cambridge University graduate volunteering to help ex-convicts such as her killer — a convicted terrorist.
Jack Merritt was a law and criminology graduate. His master’s thesis was focused on specifically the case and was titled “A Critical Analysis of the Over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Males Aged 18-21 in the British Prison System.”
The conference at Fishmongers’ Hall was organized by Learning Together, a network of academics and criminal justice organizations. Merritt worked as a course coordinator for Learning Together and Jones was a volunteer for the group.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said bystanders used anything they could find to stop the attacker from harming others and praised their efforts.
“And I think what we should do is reflect on the fact that these people ignored all the advice they’re given, which is to run away from danger, to look after your own safety. And instead ran towards danger to make sure others were safe. And I’m just so incredibly proud as the mayor, and I think all of us should be proud of our fellow citizens,” the mayor told reporters.
The mayor said a Londoner of Polish origin was among the group of people who intervened.
“We saw yesterday one example of the worst of humanity — the actions of this terrorist,” Sadiq Khan said. “But we saw many examples of the best of humanity. And when I say the best of us, I include EU citizens. And what we saw yesterday was ordinary citizens, including Londoners who are of Polish origin — he’s a Londoner — who acted in an extraordinary way. And I’m pretty proud of him.”
An interview with BBC resurfaced, showing Usman Khan saying that he isn’t a terrorist. He gave the interview back in 2008.
Khan’s lawyer told the Guardian that his client had asked for help to be deradicalised while he was in prison.
UK politicians have sought to blame each other for the fact that Khan was able to stage the attack after being convicted on terrorism offences. Home secretary Priti Patel blamed it on legislation brought in by the previous Labour government, while shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pointed to a lack of resources.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blamed Tory budget cuts and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 under the Tony Blair government for the attack.
The Parole Board could not be involved in this decision @jeremycorbyn. Your party changed the law in 2008 so that Khan was automatically released irrespective of the danger he posed. Very concerning that you want to be PM but don’t understand this.https://t.co/uqUBggmEbg
— Priti Patel (@patel4witham) November 30, 2019
Because legislation brought in by your government in 2008 meant that dangerous terrorists had to automatically be released after half of their jail term. Conservatives changed the law in 2012 to end your automatic release policy but Khan was convicted before this. https://t.co/8fCm880MSK
— Priti Patel (@patel4witham) November 30, 2019
Govt need to listen to police chiefs who say a lack of resources to policing and the criminal justice system puts us all in danger. We need the proper resources to monitor convicted terrorists.
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) November 30, 2019
The victims’ families were not vindictive and said they wished that their deaths wouldn’t be used for further suppression of minorities.
“Saskia was a funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people’s lives,” the family of Saskia Jones said in a statement.
“She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people,” they added. “She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be. Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support.”
Jack Merritt’s family said he was a “friend and colleague” of Jones.
“Our beautiful, talented boy, died doing what he loved, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him,” a statement said.
“He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly. Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog. Jack was an intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne, and making a career helping people in the criminal justice system.
We know Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary. Our thoughts go out to the relatives and friends of his friend and colleague who died with him in this incident, to the colleagues who were injured, and to his brilliant, supportive colleagues at the University of Cambridge Department of Criminology.”
Jack Merritt's family and loved ones have specifically asked that rightwing newspapers and political parties not use his murder to advance reactionary demands.
If you see it happening, call it out. They deserve so much better.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) December 2, 2019
Jack Merritt’s father made a call to not use his son’s death and that of Saskia Jones to fuel right-wing xenophobic propaganda.
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. https://t.co/R8LO16lugk
— David Merritt (@butwhatifitsall) December 1, 2019
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