London Bridge attacker had been convicted of terrorism offenses but released last year

An image grab taken from a video shows a man surrounded by police after an incident on London Bridge on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. (@HLOBlog via AP)
Updated 30 November 2019

London Bridge attacker had been convicted of terrorism offenses but released last year

  • Sporting a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Usman Khan went on the rampage at a rehabilitation conference beside London Bridge
  • He was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and then shot dead by police

LONDON: The 28-year-old British man who killed two people in a stabbing spree on London Bridge before police shot him dead had previously been convicted of terrorism offenses and was released from prison last year.
Sporting a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Usman Khan went on the rampage just before 2 p.m. on Friday at a rehabilitation conference beside London Bridge. He was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and then shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has called a snap election for Dec. 12 and is due to host NATO leaders including US President Donald Trump next week, said it was a terrorist attack and said Britain would never be cowed.




An undated photo of Usman Khan provided by West Midlands Police . (West Midlands Police via AP)


Khan, whose family hails from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, was convicted in 2012 for his part in an Al-Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange but was released in December 2018 subject to conditions.
“This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offenses,” Britain’s top counter-terrorism police officer, Neil Basu, said in a statement.
“Clearly, a key line of enquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack,” Basu said.
Two people — a man and a woman — were killed in the attack. In addition, a man and two women were injured and remain in hospital, Basu said.
Britain’s security minister Brandon Lewis said police are not looking for any other suspects over the attack.
During the 2017 election campaign, London Bridge was the scene of an attack when three militants drove a van into pedestrians and then attacked people in the surrounding area, killing eight and injuring at least 48.
Daesh said its fighters were responsible, but the British authorities have cast doubt on those claims. The attack focused attention on cuts to policing since the governing Conservatives took power in 2010.
Friday’s attack, just 13 days before an election that could decide the fate of Brexit and the world’s fifth largest economy, prompted political leaders to scale back campaigning.
The focus of campaigning is likely to shift from Brexit and the health service to crime.
“This country will never be cowed, or divided, or intimidated by this sort of attack,” Johnson told reporters in Downing Street. He also praised the bravery of bystanders who tackled Khan to the ground.
A video posted on Twitter showed police dragging one man off the suspect before an officer took careful aim. Two shots rang out. The man stopped moving.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was horrified by the attack.
“We must and we will stand together to reject hatred and division,” said Corbyn, who opinion polls show trails Johnson.


As virus spreads to more Chinese cities, WHO calls emergency meeting

Updated 50 min 38 sec ago

As virus spreads to more Chinese cities, WHO calls emergency meeting

  • Third death reported in Wuhan, where outbreak started
  • Total number of cases more than triples to 221

BEIJING: An outbreak of a new coronavirus has spread to more Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing and Shanghai, authorities said on Monday, and a fourth case has been reported beyond China’s borders.
China’s National Health Commission confirmed that the virus, which causes a type of pneumonia, can pass from person-to-person, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
President Xi Jinping said curbing the outbreak and saving lives was a top priority as the number of patients more than tripled and a third person died.
Adding to the difficulties of containing it, hundreds of millions of Chinese will be traveling domestically and abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday that starts this week.
Authorities around the globe, including in the United States and many Asian countries, have stepped up screening of travelers from Wuhan, the central city where the virus was first discovered.
“Wuhan is a major hub and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, the concern level must remain high. There is more to come from this outbreak,” said Jeremy Farrar, a specialist in infectious disease epidemics and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity.
Authorities confirmed a total of 217 new cases of the virus in China as of 6 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on Monday, state television reported, 198 of which were in Wuhan.
Five new cases were confirmed in Beijing and 14 more in Guangdong province, the report said. Another statement confirmed a new case in Shanghai, bringing the number of known cases worldwide to 222.
“People’s lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed,” President Xi was quoted as saying by state television.
The virus belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.
Its symptoms include fever and difficulty in breathing, which are similar to many other respiratory diseases and pose complications for screening efforts.
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed that two cases of infection in Guangdong province were due to human-to-human transmission, Xinhua said. Some medical staff have been infected, it added, but gave no number.

BEYOND BORDERS
South Korea on Monday confirmed its first case, a 35-year-old Chinese national who had traveled from Wuhan, the fourth patient reported outside China.
Last week, two cases were reported in Thailand and one in Japan. All three involved people from Wuhan or who recently visited the city.
A report by London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis estimated that by Jan. 12 there were 1,723 cases in Wuhan City with onset of related symptoms. Chinese health authorities have not commented directly on the report.
“This outbreak is extremely concerning. Uncertainty and gaps remain, but it is now clear that there is person to person transmission,” Farrar said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday “an animal source” appeared most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak and that some “limited human-to-human transmission” occurred between close contacts.
The Geneva-based UN agency later convened an emergency committee for Wednesday to assess whether the outbreak constitutes an international health emergency and what measures should be taken to manage it.
So far, the WHO has not recommended trade or travel restrictions, but a panel of independent experts could do so or make other recommendations to limit spread.
China’s state council reiterated the government will step up prevention efforts and find the source of infection and transmission channels as soon as possible, state television said on Monday.
Shares in pharmaceutical firms and mask makers in China surged Monday because of the outbreak.
“Who knows how many people who have been to Wuhan may be unaware that they have already been infected?,” said one commentator on Chinese social media platform Weibo
The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial the government needs to disclose all information and not repeat the mistakes made with SARS. Chinese officials covered up the SARS outbreak for weeks before a growing death toll and rumors forced it to reveal the epidemic.
“Concealment would be a serious blow to the government’s credibility and might trigger greater social panic,” the editorial said.
(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai, Roxanne Liu, Sophie Yu, Judy Hua and Colin Qian and Se Young Lee in Beijing, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Kate Kelland in London, and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Angus MacSwan)