Shafaqna Pakistan:The British media has said that the London Bridge attacker Usman Khan was a known extremist who preached hate with ISIS and Al-Muhajiorun flags on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent and came to the attention of British security services at the age of 15 but no action was taken by the authorities to discourage his hate-preaching.
In further confirmation of the fact that Usman Khan had no relation of any kind with Pakistan as far his extremism is concerned, the British media and commentators have condemned the UK’s counter-terrorism approach and jail system.
It has now been confirmed that Usman Khan was a close friend and student of Anjum Chaudhary, the convicted extremist preacher. After Usman Khan was arrested with his Bangladeshi and Indian terror associates in 2010 in relation to the gang’s London bombings, Anjum Chaudhary described him as his “student” and “friend”.
The British media further wrote that Usman Khan was bullied at school over his facial hair and suffered exclusion and racism when he was a child. Soon after the London Bridge attacker was killed, the Indian media tried to link him with Pakistan but the UK media refuted the allegations, quoting court papers and intelligence officers who all confirmed that Khan was a complete local extremism issue.
Son of a hard-working taxi driver, Usman Khan attended Haywood High School inBurslem, Stoke, but dropped out without any qualifications.
Local media wrote that Usman Khan desperately tried to fit in by wearing designer clothes and be liked at school by wearing the latest clothes but had no confidence and would never speak up. He started growing beard at an early age.
Investigators believe that his parents, who came to the UK from Azad Kashmir, were moderate people and had no relation with either extremism or the extremist views of their oddball son.
One of Khan’s class fellows told The Sun, “He was really a quiet kid at school, he kept himself to himself but he was made fun of when he started growing facial hair long before the rest of us. There weren’t many Muslim kids at our school and there was a lot of tension between the small group of Asian kids and the white kids.
“Looking back, he obviously tried really hard to fit in and be liked — I remember he wore a Helly Hansen jacket and Rockport shoes, which all the cool kids were wearing at the time.
“But he always used to sit by himself at school and only really had one person you could call a friend.”
The former class fellow shared that within months of leaving school in 2007, Usman Khan started preaching hate on the streets. Khan was seen running stalls of Al-Muhajiroun and speaking in favour of al-Qaeda and later on, ISIS. The former class fellow said that Usman Khan was recruited by the local extremists, who accepted him and made him feel comfortable.
Al-Muhajiroun, led by Anjum Chaudhary, preached hate on streets of Britain, glorifying Osama Bin Laden, after terror attacks of 9/11 but mainstream media provided platform to extremist views of lawyer-turned-preacher Chaudhary and his associates. The mainstream Muslim organisations on record condemned the media for providing publicity to a group of a few extremists at the cost of millions of moderate Muslims.
In 2010, a group of extremist terrorists led by Bangladeshi origin militant Mohamed Chowdhury planned to bomb targets including Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Boris Johnson’s then-Mayoral Office, the US Embassy and the Church of Scientology. Usman Khan was part of the group from London, Cardiff, Stoke and Birmingham. They included in all: Mohammed Shahjahan, Omar Latif, Nazam Hussain, Usman Khan, Mohibur Rahman, Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah.
The secret services were covertly recording plans of the network and before Nazam Hussain and Usman Khan could travel to Azad Kashmir to set up a training madrassah site, they were all arrested in January 2011.
The Guardian said that Usman Khan was radicalised first by the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and then Anjum Chaudhary. Alwaki has been described as a principal radicaliser in terrorism plots including the July 7, 2005 London bombings and US attacks such as the Times Square bombings in New York.
Dal Babu, a chief superintendent of the police services until 2013, said, “Fundamentally, lack of resources to policing and the criminal justice system puts us all in danger. We need to carry out an urgent review of the resources available to monitor convicted terrorist by the police and security services.”
Court documents have shown that racism may have also played a role in radicalising Khan. They cite how Khan and others discussed bombing pubs in Stoke as a response to “racist incidents”.
Neighbours of Usman Khan in Rushton Grove in the Cobridge area of Stoke-on-Trent told media that they were shocked at how he changed from a “lovely young lad” to a terrorist in the space of a few years. He left the area before his arrest in January 2011.
Serry Yousaf, 28, described a heartthrob boy, who took care of his appearance.
“He was such a lovely lad, such a nice person,” she said. “What has happened has shocked me. We went to the same mosque. He was very respectful, especially towards women. He was a very good-looking lad, always wore nice clothes, nice tracksuits and jeans. He was into Islam, but he was not one of those off his head.”
A grandmother, 62, on the same road said, “Everyone is so sad. He was a good boy as a boy and as a teenager. He would always say ‘hello’. I never saw anything bad in him. I feel so sorry about what has happened.”
The trial at Southwark Crown Court had heard that the plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange was “amateurish” and unlikely to succeed. Joel Bennathan QC, for Usman Khan, 20, had told the court that it was “highly unlikely” that would have happened. Mr Bennathan had said at the time, while mitigating, that only a few thousand pounds had been raised before Khan and others were arrested.
Usman Khan was sentenced for preparing acts of terrorism and spent eight years in prison before being released in December 2018, fitted with an electronic tag to track his movements.