‘Poster boy’ for deradicalisation was really sleeper jihadist bent on slaughter

London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan "put on a good show" of being reformed – but was in reality a "sleeper" jihadist deceiving those monitoring him, security sources claim.

The 28-year-old convicted terrorist, who was freed from prison last December after serving less than half his sentence, killed two people and injured a further three on Friday.

He was wearing a fake suicide vest when he was shot dead on London Bridge, having begun his rampage at a conference in Fishmongers' Hall – where he was said to have threatened to blow up the building.

British-born Khan had reportedly duped probation officials to be allowed to attend the event for ex-prisoners in London.

Yesterday 25-year-old Jack Merritt, who was coordinating the conference, was named as one of Khan's victims.


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Those keeping tabs on his behaviour reportedly believed his claims that he no longer held extreme views, and a condition banning him from the capital was waived.

Now many fear he presented himself as a 'poster boy' for rehabilitation while secretly planning an atrocity.

A source told the Mail on Sunday that Khan "was doing everything he could to give the impression he had changed" – and said authorities were "thrown off the scent".

An insider told the newspaper: "He was behaving like a sleeper, he put on a good show."

Khan was one of nine men jailed for terror offences in 2012, after they were caught planning attacks on a number of high-profile targets, including the London Stock Exchange.


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He was part of an al Qaida-inspired terror group – linked to radical preacher Anjem Choudary – which also plotted to build a terrorist training camp on land in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

He later claimed he was "immature", and said he wanted to go on a rehabilitation course so he could be a "good citizen".

An urgent review of terrorists released from prison has been launched in the wake of the London Bridge knife attack by Khan, who was freed halfway through a 16-year jail sentence.

Khan had previously attended events run by Learning Together – an organisation that works with Cambridge University linking ex-prisoners with students.

As there was "no drama", he was "rubber-stamped" to attend Friday's event, a source told the Mail on Sunday.


During his years in prison, he was viewed as a model inmate, according to reports – but authorities now believe he could have been planning the atrocity for years.

According to The Sunday Times , he showed so much enthusiasm with Learning Together that Cambridge was considering offering him an undergraduate position.

In the months after his conviction, while serving his sentence in HMP Belmarsh, Khan said he had been "immature" and said he no longer held extremist views.

The letter, published by ITV News , states: "I would be grateful if you could arrange some kind of course that I can do where I can properly learn Islam and its teachings, and I can prove I don't carry the extreme views which I might have carried before."

And it continues: “I would like to do such a course so I can prove to the authorities, my family and soicity (sic) in general that I don’t carry the views I had before my arrest and also I can prove that at the time I was immature, and now I am much more mature and want to live my life as a good Muslim and also a good citizen of Britain.”

Khan's lawyer Vajahat Sharif told The Guardian that although his client wanted to deradicalise, no support was available.

It is possible he was "regroomed" after his release, Mr Sharif said.

The lawyer stated: “He requested intervention by a deradicaliser when he was in prison.

“The only option was the probation service and they cannot deal with these offenders."

He added that the probation service "cannot deal" with ideological criminals.

Mr Sharif said he last spoke with Khan in March after he was released on the condition that he lived in a bail hostel and reported to a police station every day.

He said Khan had been a "model prisoner" at HMP Whitemoor, and said he believed he had reformed.

The lawyer stated: "Maybe he was not ideologically robust enough to resist the radicalising groomers – I thought he was a reformed character."

Experts claim Khan may have been seeking revenge for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Since his release he had been living in Stafford.

In the aftermath of the attack police descended on a block of flats where he is believed to live.

Officers say they do not believe anyone else was involved in plotting Saturday's attack, which only came to an end when hero onlookers wrestled Khan to his feet.

He was shot twice in the chest by a City of London police officer.

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