Sudesh Amman

Sudesh Amman was the British citizen who carried out the stabbing attack in Streatham, London, that wounded three people on February 2, 2020. ISIS claimed the attack the following day.“Islamic State group claims responsibility for south London attack,” France 24, February 3, 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/20200203-islamic-state-group-claims-assailant-south-london-attack-was-one-its-fighters-terrorism; “Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844. Amman had been released from prison 10 days earlier after serving half of a more-than-three-year sentence for terrorism offenses.Daniel De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885. The attack sparked national debate on the country’s early-release policies for convicted terrorists.Alan McGuinness, “Streatham attack: Emergency anti-terror law to be brought forward ‘as soon as possible,’” Sky News, February 4, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-attack-emergency-anti-terror-law-to-be-brought-forward-as-soon-as-possible-11925985.

Authorities have linked Amman to wanted propagandist Abdullah al-Faisal. Police found text messages attributed to Faisal on Amman’s phone at the time of his December 2018 arrest. According to a fellow inmate at London’s Belmarsh prison, Amman possessed a USB stick with Faisal’s lectures while was imprisoned between 2018 and 2020.Emma Yeomans, David Brown, Fariha Karim, and Duncan Gardham, “Streatham terror attacker devoted to ‘sheikh’ who inspired London Bridge killer,” The Times (London), February 5, 2010, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/streatham-terror-attacker-devoted-to-sheikh-who-inspired-london-bridge-killer-lpd5wplnt. Amman’s mother told the Guardian her son became more religious in prison and she believed he radicalized there.Caroline Davies and Simon Murphy, “Sudesh Amman: how did science student become Streatham jihadist?,” Guardian (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/sudesh-amman-how-did-science-student-become-streatham-jihadist.

Amman was the oldest of six boys. Amman’s parents separated when he was younger, and his father reportedly moved back to the family’s native Sri Lanka after meeting another woman.Sam Greenhill, “'When I grow up I'm going to be a terrorist': As a dope-smoking boy in the suburbs, Sudesh Amman fantasised about killing police and had an ISIS flag in his room... on Sunday he went on knife rampage (after a final mutton biryani from mum),” Daily Mail (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7963185/Sudesh-Amman-fantasised-killing-police-Sunday-went-knife-rampage.html#comments. Amman graduated from Park High School in Stanmore, England, in 2016. He moved to Harrow, north London, with his mother and younger siblings in a rented house while studying math and science at the College of North West London. Amman attended the school from September 2017 to May 2018. His father lived abroad and reportedly rarely saw the family.Caroline Davies and Simon Murphy, “Sudesh Amman: how did science student become Streatham jihadist?,” Guardian (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/sudesh-amman-how-did-science-student-become-streatham-jihadist. According to police, Amman used the WhatsApp messenger application to indoctrinate his younger siblings in a group he called “La Familia.” Amman shared an al-Qaeda magazine and other propaganda in the group, which also featured pictures of Amman’s siblings posing like ISIS fighters. At one point, Amman declared in the chat “the Islamic state is here to stay.”Daniel De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885.

In addition to his family, Amman attempted to radicalize his girlfriend. Amman sent her beheading videos and encouraged her to kill her “kuffar” parents.Caroline Davies and Simon Murphy, “Sudesh Amman: how did science student become Streatham jihadist?,” Guardian (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/sudesh-amman-how-did-science-student-become-streatham-jihadist. At one point, he told his girlfriend that he had pledged allegiance to ISIS and wanted to carry out acid attacks. In one message seen by authorities, he told her to use a knife, Molotov cocktail, bombs, or a car to “attack the tourists, police and soldiers of taghut, or Western embassies in every country you are in this planet.”Daniel De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885. Amman also told her ISIS was the best thing to happen to Islam.“Teenager Sudesh Amman jailed for online terror videos,” BBC News, December 17, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-46592539.

In April 2018, Dutch blogger and extremism monitor Azazel van den Berg alerted British police about a user on the Telegram messenger service spreading concerning images, including one of a knife and firearms and the phrase “Armed and ready April 3.” Police identified Amman as the user responsible for the Telegram message.Daniel “De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885. Then 18-year-old Amman was arrested in north London in May 2018 on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.“Update: Streatham High Road attack,” Metropolitan Police, February 3, 2020, http://news.met.police.uk/news/update-streatham-high-road-attack-393331. Police found an air gun, a black flag, and a combat knife at his home. Police also discovered almost 10 terabytes of terrorist propaganda and training manuals on Amman’s devices, including manuals on “Bloody Brazilian Knife Fighting” and “How To Make A Bomb In Your Kitchen.”“Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844; David Mercer, “Streatham terror attack: What we know about Sudesh Amman,” Sky News, February 7, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-what-we-know-about-sudesh-amman-11925200. Authorities also seized notebooks Amman kept with extremist thoughts. He wrote frequently about his fascination with knife attacks. In one entry on his life goals, he wrote he wanted to die a martyr and go to paradise.Caroline Davies and Simon Murphy, “Sudesh Amman: how did science student become Streatham jihadist?,” Guardian (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/sudesh-amman-how-did-science-student-become-streatham-jihadist.

Authorities did not pursue charges of an eminent attack but charged Amman with multiple counts of ownership and distribution of terrorist materials.“Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844; David Mercer, “Streatham terror attack: What we know about Sudesh Amman,” Sky News, February 7, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-what-we-know-about-sudesh-amman-11925200. In November 2018, Amman pleaded guilty to six charges of possessing documents containing terrorist information and seven charges of disseminating terrorist publications.“Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844; David Mercer, “Streatham terror attack: What we know about Sudesh Amman,” Sky News, February 7, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-what-we-know-about-sudesh-amman-11925200. On December 17, 2018, he was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Amman smiled and waved at the court’s public gallery during his sentencing.“Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844. During the sentencing, Judge Mark Lucraft QC described Amman as “someone with sincerely held and concerning ideological beliefs.”Caroline Davies and Simon Murphy, “Sudesh Amman: how did science student become Streatham jihadist?,” Guardian (London), February 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/sudesh-amman-how-did-science-student-become-streatham-jihadist.

Amman was released on January 23, 2020, due to British probation rules that allow for early release after the completion of half a sentence. He reportedly lived in a bail hostel in south London under government restrictions and surveillance. Amman was required to wear a GPS tag and was forbidden from visiting ports and airports. His Internet use was limited. He also forfeited his passport.Daniel De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885.

On February 2, 2020, Amman strapped a fake bomb to his body under his clothes and entered the Low Price Store in Streatham, London. He took a 10-inch knife off the shelf and left the store without paying as an employee tried to stop him. He removed the knife from its packaging and stabbed a woman in the back. He then stabbed a man outside the White Lion Pub down the street as police chased after him. Police shot him dead during the pursuit within 60 seconds of the start of the attack. A third passerby was wounded by shattered glass resulting from a police firearm. Explosives experts determined the bomb strapped to Amman was a hoax.“Streatham attacker named as Sudesh Amman,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844; David Mercer, “Streatham terror attack: What we know about Sudesh Amman,” Sky News, February 7, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-what-we-know-about-sudesh-amman-11925200; “Update: Streatham High Road attack,” Metropolitan Police, February 3, 2020, http://news.met.police.uk/news/update-streatham-high-road-attack-393331. According to one of the victims, Amman had forgotten to remove the plastic cover from the knife, which prevented further harm.Flora Thompson, Margaret Davis, David Hughes, and Ryan Merrifield, “Terrorist Sudesh Amman 'forgot to take cover off knife' before stabbing shopper, 36,” Mirror (London), February 5, 2020, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/terrorist-sudesh-amman-forgot-take-21432293. On February 3, ISIS released a statement through Telegram claiming Amman was a fighter for the jihadist group.“Islamic State group claims responsibility for south London attack,” France 24, February 3, 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/20200203-islamic-state-group-claims-assailant-south-london-attack-was-one-its-fighters-terrorism.

Currently, British law allows for convicts serving fixed-term sentences to be released halfway through the term and complete the remainder of the sentence on home arrest under specific conditions.“Leaving Prison,” Gov.UK, accessed December 5, 2019, https://www.gov.uk/leaving-prison. After Usman Khan killed two people in an attack near the London Bridge on November 29, 2019, British leaders questioned Khan’s early release and sought a review of 74 convicts who received early conditional releases.“Boris Johnson says 74 terror prisoners released early,” BBC News, December 1, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50618744. Propagandist Anjem Choudary was released in October 2018 with communications and travel restrictions. Officials called for an “urgent” review of Choudary’s conditions following the London Bridge attack.Robert Mendick, Martin Evans, and Charles Hymas, “Anjem Choudary’s licence under ‘urgent’ review in wake of London Bridge attack,” Telegraph (London), December 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/02/anjem-choudary-have-licence-conditions-reviewed-emerges-met/. After the Streatham attack, government officials began reviewing emergency legislation that would revise the early release procedures for convicted terrorists.Alan McGuinness, “Streatham attack: Emergency anti-terror law to be brought forward ‘as soon as possible,’” Sky News, February 4, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-attack-emergency-anti-terror-law-to-be-brought-forward-as-soon-as-possible-11925985.

 
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