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Police feared attack by Streatham terrorist was matter of ‘when, not if’, inquest told

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An ISIS supporter who launched an attack 10 days after his release from prison was considered “one of the most dangerous individuals” that police and MI5 had investigated, an inquest into his death has heard.

MI5 and police said it was a case of “when, not if” Sudesh Amman would attack the public, less than a month before he went on a knife rampage in south London.

The 20-year-old was under surveillance when he grabbed a 20cm carving knife from a shop and stabbed two passers-by on Streatham High Road in February last year.

he full jury inquest into the death of the terrorist on a south London street began on Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.
Image: Amman was considered ‘one of the most dangerous individuals’ the police had investigated

He was shot dead by armed officers 62 seconds later.

A report prepared by the Terrorism Offender Management Unit (TOMU), part of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command before Amman’s release, said it was the “collective view” of partner agencies that he was “one of the most dangerous individuals we have investigated”.

Carina Heckroodt, head of the London Extremism Gangs and Organised Crime Unit at the Probation Service, said during a meeting prior to Amman’s release he was deemed a “high threat” and it was “suspected he would use a knife to carry out an attack”.

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However, she denied it was a “missed opportunity” not to recall Amman to prison on 31 January after he was spotted buying items later used to fashion a fake suicide belt.

The inquest was also told 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.

Amman was wearing a fake suicide vest make of Iron Bru bottles, foil and packing tape. Pic: Gardham/Met Police
Image: Amman was wearing a fake suicide vest make of Iron Bru bottles, foil and packing tape. Pic: Met Police

The senior police officer leading the investigation into Amman’s release from prison, who is known only as HA6 to protect his identity, said he feared the convict had not changed his extremist mindset while incarcerated.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, he told the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday: “Between ourselves and MI5 it caused us great concern.”

Amman’s behaviour in the days following his release was “concerning”, he added, which included taking a bus to Croydon and praying in the street outside a McDonald’s.

Sudesh Amman ran down Streatham High Road. Credit: Gardham/Met Police
Image: Sudesh Amman ran down Streatham High Road. Pic: Met Police

“Odd is one interpretation,” he said.

“Anti-surveillance – trying to identify our response – being another interpretation.”

Amman’s inquest previously heard he had boasted of his intention to join ISIS and kill the Queen.

During his time in jail, Amman mixed with fellow terrorist prisoners including Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, who helped build the bomb that killed 22 people.

The Met’s Counter Terror Command was so concerned about Amman’s apparently unrepentant behaviour, officers asked the prison governor not to release him.

However, the request was turned down because the offence Amman was jailed for – collecting and disseminating extremist literature – could not justify an extension to his sentence.

The inquest continues.