London Bridge attack: why was it allowed to happen?

Last week's terrorist attack on London Bridge, echoing a previous outrage that took place just yards away in 2017, and which claimed the lives of two innocent people, is clear evidence of an emasculated Britain, justifying its weakness as "political correctness", writes Gary Cartwright.

That even more did not lose their lives in the name of Islamic fundamentalism is mainly due to the courageous actions of a few citizens. 

London Bridge Attack Video

Whilst the Prime Minister and Home Secretary were quick to praise the police for responding so quickly - armed officers were on the scene in five minutes - this fast response owes much, if not everything, to the relatively close proximity of Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, and many other key government buildings.

If such an incident had occurred in any other major conurbation, or away from the centre of the city, the response time would have been far, far greater. 

In fact, it is worth noting that the first officer on the scene was an off duty British Transport policeman.

In response to the attack, the inept Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, said "In the coming days you will see more police, both armed and unarmed, patrolling our streets to help reassure those who are understandably concerned".

A little late now, Ms. Dick.

Again, the public have been forced to take matters into their own hands, as police numbers have dwindled, and priorities have been quietly shifted away from protecting the public, towards policing us. As EUToday has previously warned, Britain is but one step away from vigilantism.

The main questions to be addressed, however, concern not only the terrorist, named as Usman Khan, but the system that allowed dark forces to create and control him, seemingly without hindrance.

Khan 2

Khan is British born, his family originally hailing from Pakistani administered Kashmir. He left school without qualifications, and from an early age began "hanging around with street gangs and drug pushers", the Eurasian Times reports.

As he grew up he started mixing with religious radicals, could be seen working on stalls selling books, etc, raising funds on behalf of the banned terrorist Al-Muhajiroun group, which operates under numerous different guises, and which was once led by hate-preacher Anjem Choudary, who Khan is reported to have been well associated with.

Individual members of Al-Muhajiroun have been implicated in a number of terrorist attacks, including the murder of off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of London.

Why was this outlawed group allowed, under the noses of the British police, to sell hate materials outside mosques? For fear of offending the Muslim community?

Already convicted as part of a gang of nine plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange, last year he was released early from prison, on licence, but apparently without any proper assessment by a parole board. 

Banned from entering London and whilst wearing an electronic tag he was allowed to enter the capital on the day he carried out his killings to attend a rehabilitation event clearly without any monitoring taking place.

In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community...

Mr Justice Wilkie, on sentencing Usman Khan in 2012

Were the police warned of his presence in London on that day? If not, why not? This question should be asked of Home Secretary Priti Patel, with whom the buck stops.

Her response to this debacle? To blame legislation brought in 11 years ago by a previous Labour government in order to "protect the public from dangerous prisoners", and which was subsequently scrapped by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2012. 

If decisions concerning our safety and security are still dependent on the decisions of a long gone government, and on legislation which, without the apparent knowledge of Ms. Patel, was scrapped 11 years ago, why are we paying her? 

As for the practice of releasing prisoners early, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated "I've said for a long time now, that I think the practice of automatic, early release where we cut a sentence in half and let really serious and violent offenders out early, simply isn't working... And I think you've had some very good evidence of how that isn't working, I'm afraid, with this case".

We have wonder if Mr. Johnson will actually put these words into action, or if they will quietly be forgotten after the forthcoming General Election: to be frank, our experience of politicians suggests the latter.

The way in which convicted terrorists are handled in prison is farcical at best, dangerously incompetent at worst. Britain's prisons have effectively become breeding grounds for Islamic fundamentalists. Indeed, Belmarsh maximum security prison in London has been described by one former Muslim inmate as being like a "jihadi training camp"

Soon after I arrived in Belmarsh in 2014, news came through that Mosul in Iraq had fallen to Islamic State and the prison erupted. There were chants of “Allahu Akbar”, wild banging on the doors and joyous shouting of “we are going to take over” throughout the wing. It was like a big party that went on unchecked for several hours.


In such prisons, Muslim inmates are allowed to attend religious services and studies conducted by Imams, and convicted radicals are allowed to mix freely with "ordinary" criminals, as well as young offenders who are on hold, awaiting trial or transfer to other establishments.

These events take place without supervision by prison staff.

After five months I got moved to Highpoint, a category C men’s prison in Suffolk. I was there for the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 and again there were prisoners openly praising the attackers and embracing one an-other, although not as many as in Belmarsh. I complained to a chief prison officer who said: “We know what’s going on but we don’t have the funding or staff to do anything about it.”


In the wake of Usman Khan's attack, the Ministry of Justice has launched an "urgent inquiry" to examine the licence conditions of up to 70 violent terrorists believed to have been freed from jail. 

Terrorists out on licence are expected to face more frequent meetings with authorities from Sunday, with increased restrictions on the events that they can attend.

Not releasing them from jail in the first place might have been a much better idea.

All EUToday op-eds are the personal opinions of the author.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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