Police said extremist attack by Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman was matter of ‘when, not if’ days before he was released from Belmarsh, inquest hears
- Extremist boasted about wanting to murder the Royal in HMP Belmarsh
- Amman, 20, also bragged how he was the youngest terrorist in the notorious jail
- Despite warning signs he was freed and carried out Streatham attack in ten days
Police predicted Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman would attack the public upon his release from prison – less than a month before he carried out his broad daylight rampage.
His inquest heard today MI5 and police officers discussing intelligence about the 20-year-old on January 9, 2020, two weeks before he was automatically released from Belmarsh prison for terror offences.
The court heard they were so concerned about his threat level that one officer remarked an attack would be ‘when, not if’.
It emerged as Carina Heckroodt, head of the London Extremism Gangs and Organised Crime Unit at the Probation Service, denied it was a ‘missed opportunity’ not to recall Amman to prison on January 31 after he was spotted buying items later used to fashion a fake suicide belt.
Amman, who had been bailed to Streatham in south London upon his release from prison on January 23, launched a 62-second attack 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 footage of Sudesh Amman running along Streatham High Road as he stabbed passers by
Amman stabbed and injured two passersby, while wearing a fake suicide vest, before he was shot and killed by armed police a minute late
He had stolen a knife from a high street shop and stabbed people apparently at random while wearing the hoax explosive, before his atrocity was brought to a halt when he was fatally shot by police.
Amman’s inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice previously heard of intelligence concerns about his behaviour in prison – specifically his allegiance to so-called Islamic State, his apparent desire to radicalise others, and his unwavering reluctance to engage with authorities.
Extremism Risk Guidance prepared ahead of his release also warned of the risk of Amman staging an attack in public.
On Thursday, it was disclosed that police shared those concerns.
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
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
Timeline: Streatham 2020 terror attack
January 23, 2020
Sudesh Amman is automatically released from prison.
Amman, who is originally from Coventry, is under day-time surveillance by plain clothes officers.
A decision is made to allow those surveillance officers to carry firearms.
Amman’s covert surveillance is relaxed slightly, meaning there would be no coverage between 6am and 10am.
Amman is seen looking at knives in a shop and buying items that could be used to create a hoax suicide belt. These items include a roll of tape, aluminium foil and four bottles of Irn Bru soft drink. It is then decided to put Amman under 24-hour surveillance.
Amman is placed on ’round-the-clock’ – i.e. 24-hour – surveillance.
1.22pm – Amman leaves his approved premises, the probation hostel, at Leigham Court Road.
1.50pm – Amman is seen on Streatham High Road. He is said to be walking ‘very slowly’.
1.57pm – The 20-year-old enters a shop called Low Price Store. He is inside for barely a minute, and emerges with a knife which he has stolen. He is pursued by undercover police. Amman stabs two people – a man and a woman – before being shot at by an armed officer.
1.58pm – Amman, reaching the Boots shop, turns to face the police. Police shoot at him five times, with two shots hitting him. A total of 62 seconds after running from the shop, Amman falls to the ground.
2.40pm – A police explosives expert arrives on the scene to check the device around Amman’s waist, which was identified as a hoax.
3.24pm – Sudesh Amman is pronounced dead by a paramedic.
Ms Heckroodt’s witness statements, read before the inquest jury, said: ‘On January 9, I attended a JOT (Joint Operational Team) meeting in London to discuss Amman.
‘This meeting was attended by a number of people and included the police and the security service (MI5).
‘I cannot remember all of the attendees and I am not sure who they all represented.
‘During this JOT, the police said that Amman was a high threat and that an attack would be when, not if.’
Ms Heckroodt also said Amman was considered at that meeting to be ‘high threat’ and it was ‘suspected he would use a knife to carry out an attack’.
She said she subsequently learned Amman bought some bottles of Irn Bru soft drink, a roll of tape and some kitchen foil from Poundland.
It prompted her to call the Probation Service’s national security lead to discuss whether Amman could have breached the terms of his release from prison.
However, it was not felt Amman’s actions were sufficient enough to recall him to prison.
He struck two days later.
Giving evidence, Ms Heckroodt said she was ‘satisfied’ there was nothing about the purchases that suggested he had breached any licence conditions.
Rajiv Menon, representing Amman’s family, said: ‘Your failure to recall him was a most serious missed opportunity in this case.’
Ms Heckroodt replied: ‘I disagree, it was not a missed opportunity.’
Bilal Rawat, for the Probation Service, asked: ‘If you were aware of the risk he presented, if you found a legitimate basis to recall him, would you?’
Ms Heckroodt replied: ‘I would have done it immediately.’
The inquest also heard how police did not search Amman’s room at his probation hostel because they ‘did not want to show their hand’ that he was under surveillance.
Recalling her conversation with police at the time, Ms Heckroodt said: ‘We were trying to think what else can we do, what were his intentions?
‘A room search was not possible. The police were very careful not to show their hand at the time.
‘We couldn’t do anything to show him he was under covert surveillance.’
Amman, who is originally from Coventry and of Sri Lankan descent, stabbed and injured two people on Streatham High Road before he was shot dead.
His inquest continues.