United Kingdom

Streatham terrorist under 24-hour surveillance by armed police when he stabbed two, inquest hears

Islamist terrorist Sudesh Amman

An Islamist terrorist was under 24-hour surveillance by armed police when he stole a eight-inch knife from a shop in South London and stabbed two people while wearing a fake suicide belt before he was shot dead, an inquest heard today. 

Isis supporter Sudesh Amman, 20, grabbed the blade from a shop in Streatham High Road on February 2, 2020 and stabbed two bystanders while wearing a 'crude replica' of a suicide belt before he was killed by police marksmen. Both his victims survived. 

It came 10 days after Amman was automatically released from HMP Belmarsh, where he was serving a 40-month sentence for 13 terror offences - having encouraged his girlfriend to behead her parents and declared his own wish to carry out an attack.

Opening the inquest into Amman's death at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the coroner said he 'died after having stabbed two people in an apparent terror attack and being confronted and shot by armed police surveillance officers'. 

Justice Nicholas Hilliard told jurors that Amman was being followed by four undercover armed police officers on foot when he launched the attack, while others were in vehicles on surrounding roads.

Amman was jailed but freed automatically on January 23, 2020 despite concerns he 'retained extremist views throughout that time and there were concerns about his release into the community'.

On his release, Amman was required to live at a probation hostel in Streatham, with conditions such as a tag and curfew, and immediately became the subject of a 'priority investigation' by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police. 

Amman was under day-time surveillance by plain clothes officers between January 24 and 28 amid concerns he might commit another offence, and on January 29 a decision was made to allow those officers to carry firearms, the inquest heard today.

Two days later, Amman was seen looking at knives in a shop and purchasing items that could be used to create a hoax suicide belt, the coroner told jurors, after which it was decided to put the Islamist terrorist under 24-hour surveillance.

Armed police shot dead Amman after he grabbed a knife from a shop and stabbed a man and a woman in a brutal high-street rampage in Streatham

Amman lies dead on the pavement on Streatham High Road after being shot dead

The coroner described how Amman was seen leaving his hostel on the afternoon he struck, walking towards Streatham High Road at around 1.25pm.

The coroner said: 'By 1.50pm, he (Amman) was walking very slowly, he had a white bag across his chest. He was under surveillance by four officers on foot, and other officers were in vehicles on a surrounding road.

'At 1.57, Mr Amman entered a general shop ... which sold, amongst other things, knives.'

He said an anonymous surveillance officer went towards the shop's entrance, just as Amman grabbed a 20cm kitchen knife from a display and ran with it from the shop. The officer, known only as BX87, then ran after Amman.

The coroner said Amman then began stabbing members of the public. He said: 'As he ran and within a few seconds, Amman stabbed a lady in the back outside the White Lion public house.

'A few seconds later while still running, he stabbed a man by Cash Converters, in the right side of his torso.'

The scene in Streatham High Road, south London after Amman was shot dead by police

The coroner said a second officer, known only as BX75, also joined the pursuit of Amman and shot at him. The shot shattered a shop window, and Amman turned to face the two officers while still holding the knife, during which both officers then opened fire.

The inquest jury heard Amman suffered wounds in the neck and abdomen, and was pronounced dead at 3.24pm. There was a gap of 62 seconds between when Amman fled the shop with the knife, and being fatally shot. A suicide belt he was wearing was later found to be a hoax.

The coroner warned inquest jurors that some of the evidence may be graphic in nature.

The coroner said Amman was arrested in May 2018 on suspicion on terror offences. He was later jailed for 40 months for 13 counts of obtaining and distributing material used for terrorist purposes, and was released automatically on January 23, 2020. 

At a pre-inquest hearing last month, Amman's family questioned whether the police and security services could have arrested him earlier instead of shooting him dead in the street.

A post-mortem examination previously recorded the cause of death as shock and haemorrhage and gunshot wounds to the neck and abdomen. 

Amman's inquest is listed to last up to three weeks. It is expected to examine his background, his time in prison, his movements in the days between release and the atrocity, and police surveillance.

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