United Kingdom

Sudesh Amman told mentors he had changed his ways just three days before 2020 Streatham stabbing

A convicted terrorist told a mentor he had changed his ways, days before carrying out a high street knife rampage which ended in him being shot dead by police, an inquest has heard. 

Sudesh Amman, 20, confided how he 'now realised' that those who committed terrorist acts ended up 'pushing people away' from Islam.

Amman, from Coventry and of Sri Lankan heritage, made the comments on January 30, 2020, three days before he stole a knife and ran down Streatham High Street, stabbing randomly at members of the public before being fatally brought to a halt.

He was under 24-hour security surveillance at the time of the attack and had previously vowed 'to kill the Queen' while behind bars serving a three-year prison term.

A London inquest into his death heard Amman had been provided with support from both a practical and a theological mentor.

Amman was released from high-security Belmarsh Prison part way through his 40-month sentence for disseminating terrorist material in January 2020, and assigned the two mentors.

The pair described being 'shocked' and 'gobsmacked' when they realised they knew the man responsible for the atrocity on February 2.

Sudesh Amman, 20, confided to his mentors he 'realised' that those who committed terrorist acts ended up 'pushing people away' from Islam, days before the 2020 Streatham terror attack

CCTV image of Sudesh Amman at his approved premises on January 31, 2020, two days before he randomly stabbed two people and was fatally shot by police in Streatham, London

Amman was automatically released from prison on January 23, 2020, and placed under 24-hour surveillance by police and security services. 

Speaking with mentors following his return to society, Amman sounded 'calm and sincere' when he told them acts of terror and hatred 'turned people away from Islam.' 

Just days later, the terrorist ran into a shop on Streatham High Road, stole an eight-inch carving knife, and stabbed two people on a 62-second rampage while wearing a fake suicide belt.  

He stabbed Monika Luftner, a 52-year-old nursery school teacher, in the back.

He then knifed a male passer-by in the torso before being confronted by two armed surveillance officers.

Sudesh Amman at the till in Poundland in Streatham on January 31, 2020 - two days before the atrocity - where he bought items including four bottles of Irn Bru and kitchen foil,

Police fired six bullets and Amman was pronounced dead 90 minutes later, once explosives experts had established that the belt wrapped around his body was harmless.  

Amman was said to have been a prefect and mentor at his school before developing 'behavioural issues' and showing signs of 'anger', according to counter-terrorism police.

Witnesses, anonymised for their protection and speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice, today admitted they were left stunned by the tragic news. 

'I was gobsmacked, I was shocked, I was surprised,' a person known to the court as Mr T, said. 

Amman was seen walking the streets of Streatham moments before his terror attack, in these CCTV images released by the Metropolitan Police

Sudesh Amman running along Streatham High Street captured on CCTV before the attack

A report prepared by Witness M following his final meeting, read by Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, said: 'He (Amman) said he now realised that people who hurt other people through things like acts of terror were pushing people away from the faith and causing hatred.'

Giving evidence to the inquest on Wednesday, Witness M said Amman had been 'the most relaxed that I'd seen him' in all of their previous four face-to-face chats, both in prison and out.

Witness M said: 'He was happy to talk, he had no moments where he held back from saying anything and he seemed happy and relieved at being released.

'I took him at his word. He seemed sincere the way he was saying it.'

Asked by Mr Hough if Amman had been 'plausible', Witness M replied: 'Yes, I believe he was.'

He added he did not feel the need to report any behaviour of concern about Amman but had later felt 'shocked' after reports of the attack emerged.

Witness M said: 'I saw when it said the incident was in Streatham, I knew I visited him, I hoped it wasn't (him).

'I kept watching the news and I had a little bit of disbelief, to be honest.'

Armed police shot dead Amman after he grabbed a knife from a shop and stabbed a man and a woman in Streatham

A second mentor, known only as Witness T to protect his identity, said his duty was to discuss religious matters with Amman during their only meeting, on January 29 2020.

A report prepared for Witness T ahead of that meeting raised a number of concerns with Amman, including over his 'mindset', his potential for indoctrination, and his need for status.

Following that meeting, Witness T described how Amman revealed himself to be 'ignorant' of Islam, but said he had 'kept to himself' in the week since his release from prison to a Streatham probation hostel in case people believed he was radicalising others.

Witness T agreed with Mr Hough that Amman's background of offending and behaviour in prison meant he presented as 'quite a tough case'.

However, Witness T said he did not get the impression that Amman was being insincere.

Amman was automatically released from Belmarsh prison on January 23, part-way through his 40-month sentence for preparing and engaging in acts of terrorism.

The inquest previously heard how prison intelligence suggested he had made threats to kill the Queen, to commit a terrorist act, and radicalise others.

The inquest continues.

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