On 29 November 2019, two people were stabbed to death and three were injured when a convicted terrorist ran amok in central London. Usman Khan was attending a prisoner rehabilitation workshop near London Bridge.
The brother of terrorist Usman Khan has apologised on behalf of his family for the attack which took place at the Fishmongers’ Hall in London.
Usman Khan, 28, began stabbing people inside the Fishmongers’ Hall at the north end of London Bridge during an event being organised by a Cambridge University prisoner rehabilitation charity called Learning Together.
Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, fatally injured Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, but was then shot dead by police officers on nearby London Bridge.
Khan’s brother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told an inquest on Wednesday, 28 April: “I’m truly, truly sad for the events that happened and for those physically and mentally affected. We are really sorry as a family. I wanted to get that off my chest.”
He made the statement before he gave evidence at the inquest into the deaths of Jack and Saskia.
Khan’s brother said their grandfather and father moved to England from Pakistan in the 1960s and started working in Stoke-on-Trent in the English Midlands.
He said his father married his mother in Pakistan in the 1980s, and she then moved to England where they started a family.
The brother said he was not aware Usman had been expelled from school at the age of 14 because he himself had been busy “partying and going to gigs”.
Khan was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands and was arrested in 2010 with eight others, all of whom sympathised with al-Qaeda*.
The nine were plotting to place a pipe bomb in the London Stock Exchange.
Khan was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum term of eight years after admitting preparing terrorist acts.
Counsel for the inquest, Jonathan Hough QC, asked him if the family became aware that, as a teenager, Usman was becoming involved in extremist Islam.
The brother said: “We weren’t aware. The time we found out about that was when he got arrested. It was such a shock. When it came out in the press that’s when we found out. We didn’t have a clue.”
But Mr Hough pointed out that between 2008 and 2010 Usman and his friends were openly handing out extremist Islamic literature in the streets and in 2008 a terrorist search warrant was served on him when he was living at his sister’s house.
The brother said: “We confronted him and said ‘What is going on? Why don’t you go to work? What are you doing?’ He said the police had checked the leaflets and there was nothing wrong. He said ‘leave me alone’.”
He said Usman moved out of the family home and moved to a house in Tunstall six months before he was arrested.
Mr Hough asked what the family’s reaction was when he was arrested and accused of setting up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and planning an attack on the Stock Exchange.
“It was total shock… if we had known we would have been the first to inform (on him),” replied the brother.
Thread on evidence today at the inquests for Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones.
The evidence focused on the killer Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist seen here going to London alone after the trip was approved by police and probation.
His attack happened within hours of this image pic.twitter.com/rjozk6ix0Y
— Daniel De Simone (@DdesimoneDaniel) April 27, 2021
Mr Hough asked if Usman ever expressed remorse when they visited him after he was sent to prison.
“He never explained to us what he had done. We tried to get it out of him but he never explained…he never opened up,” replied his brother.
Mr Hough asked if the family “turned a blind eye” to Usman’s interest in Islam and allegations he was radicalising other inmates.
The brother replied: “We relied on the prison officers to keep an eye on him.”
In December 2018 Usman was released from prison and sent to live in Stafford.
Mr Hough asked his brother if the family ever asked Usman about his crimes or his attitude to religion.
“He used to brush it off and say don’t worry about that. He said he had been a silly boy and had been young,” his brother replied.
Mr Hough said: “And you accepted that?”
Usman’s brother said he was a very secretive person and they did not even know he was a smoker until he suddenly said he had quit.
Mr Hough then asked him if they knew he was going to London on 29 November 2019. His brother said he thought Usman was going to be escorted by the police and “would be back.”
On the day before the attack Usman spoke to his brother on the phone for a few minutes about unblocking his sink. Mr Hough asked him how he found out about the incident on 29 November 2019.
Usman’s brother said he learned about a terrorist attack on the news and his mother then told him Usman was not answering his phone.
The brother said: “I saw the incident (on the news) but I didn’t take much notice because I completely forgot that he was going to London…then it hit me and I thought ‘no way’. It was not in my wildest dreams. I thought he was being escorted by (police) officers.”
He said the police then knocked on the door and informed him Usman was the man who had been killed by armed police.
“It was such a shock,” said Usman’s brother.
Mr Hough asked him if he thought the family had done enough to probe Usman’s state of mind before the attack.
The brother said: “We tried our best. We relied on the people who were monitoring him. He was on a GPS tag. We relied on them, that there was someone who was monitoring him. We were solely relying on that and the parole officers.”
The inquest continues and is expected to hear evidence from the security services about how Usman Khan was monitored.
*Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia.