Another terror attack hit London at the weekend
Official figures uncovered by the Daily Express show 353 convicted or suspected terrorists have been let out of jail in the past seven years. More than 40 were freed in the 12-month period up to June last year alone. Yesterday former counter-terror chief Sir Mark Rowley called for a radical change in the law to keep the most extreme Islamists behind bars until they are safe for release.
He also urged the Government to get a grip on the rehabilitation of convicted terrorists or face further attacks.
Sir Mark, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer until March 2018, was backed up by a former top civil servant who rang alarm bells about the scale of extremism in prisons four years ago.
Ian Acheson said the “rights of citizens to be protected from murderous outrages” demanded that a small number of fanatical Islamists must be kept in prison indefinitely.
They spoke out in the wake of Sunday’s attack in Streatham by fanatic Sudesh Amman, 20, as a new wave of potentially dangerous terrorists were poised for release.
Police mark out the attack
According to the Henry Jackson Society, another 19 jailed terrorists are due to be released in the next few weeks or months.
Ministers yesterday vowed to take action and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland reminded MPs of the Government’s plans for new legislation to scrap early release for the worst terrorist offenders.
Mr Buckland’s statement came as a former independent reviewer of anti-terror legislation called for the return of house arrest.
Lord Carlile, who stepped down in 2011, said control orders, which restricted the movements of extremists, their activities and who they met, should be re-introduced.
Policemen carry out a fingertip search
Amman was being secretly tailed by security services and police when he grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed and wounded two people in the south London suburb on Sunday afternoon.
Just 60 seconds later, the police revealed last night, he was shot dead. A third victim was hurt by flying glass when a bullet shattered a shop window.
Amman, who once urged a girlfriend to murder her “non‑believer” parents, struck just days after walking free from prison after serving half his sentence.
The attack came after Usman Khan, 28, murdered two people at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge last November. Khan, who was shot dead by police, was also released early.
A policeman guards the scene
Following the carnage on London Bridge, the Government was warned that Amman was too dangerous to be allowed back on the streets.
The Henry Jackson Society issued the alert naming the Streatham attacker and two others due for release.
Sir Mark told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I remember being asked by MPs a few years ago about the threat of returning jihadis from Syria, which is a concern.
“I remember saying at the time that there will be more dangerous people on the streets of the UK in the next few years coming out of UK prisons with terrorist convictions, than returning from Syria. Sadly that seems to be what’s happening at the moment.”
The scene of the attack
Sir Mark said: “People who are going to prison with a committed ideology that they believe that slaughtering other people is their God-given purpose, there perhaps needs to be an ability to extend sentences until the state is happy that they have learnt the errors of their ways.
“As I understand the rules, the Prison Service had no choice but to release him even though they were very, very concerned about it. That seems a bit perverse.”
Meanwhile, police raided two addresses linked to Amman including his bail hostel a short distance from the scene of the attack. Detectives also searched a property in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.
Scotland Yard said: “The Counter Terrorism Command continue to carry out fast-time inquiries into the circumstances of the attack in Streatham. No arrests have been made.”