The final, official story of the London Bridge attack is beginning to take shape. More information is coming together all the time, the very efficiently edited Wikipedia page for Fishmongers Hall already has a short section dedicated to events of the two days ago.
Here is what we know so far:
The Alleged Attacker
His name was Usman Khan, he was from Stoke on Trent. That’s it as far as personal details go, nothing about his personal life or his family has yet emerged and/or been released.
UPDATE: Usman Khan now has his own wikipedia page. Very efficiently put together, but bearing absolutely no personal details except his birthday (no idea what the source is for that). We don’t know his parent’s names, where he went to school, or even what he did for a living.
We do know he pleaded guilty to “preparing acts of terrorism” in 2012, that can be confirmed with contemporary sources.
Much is being made of the “convicted terrorist walking the streets” narrative, but the truth of the case is that Khan had never actually hurt anyone. Or attempted to hurt anyone. Or acted with violent intent in any way. The BBC made it clear, at the time, that there were no weapons, or bomb parts, found at any of the men’s houses, and no evidence they had made any efforts to purchase such.
Under current UK “anti-terror” legislation “intent and determination” is enough to be convicted of “planning a terrorist attack”. Which is to say, spitballing, hypotheticals and talking shit to your friends can get you 10 years in prison.
We know that Khan, and his 9 co-defendants, were under surveillance by MI5 for two whole years before being arrested. We are not told how they came to be under this surveillance, except a vague term “concerns were raised in the community”.
We know the men knew each other through their involvement in the (now banned) organisation Islam4UK. It could be assumed that MI5 either monitored everyone associated with this group, or indeed helped set up the group in the first place to use it as a “honeytrap”.
Regardless of the exact details of his past conviction, we know Khan was released December last year, and was in a rehabilitation program. There are also reports he was still tagged. Both of those claims appeared in the Times.
We are still in the dark as far as motive goes, with speculation raging. The Mirror suggest he was taking “vengeance” for the alleged death of al-Baghdadi in Syria last month. But that doesn’t seem likely, given the timeline. However, it was reported that ISIS had “claimed responsibility” for the attack.
So far none of the classic “suicide tapes” have appeared.
The attack itself, as a narrative, has coalesced in the last 24 hours. From wikipedia:
Khan had been attending the ‘Learning Together’ seminar in Fishmongers’ Hall, run by the Cambridge Institute of Criminology to help offenders reintegrate into society following their release from prison.
At 13:58 on 29 November, City of London Police were called to an incident at Fishmongers’ Hall. Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest, threatened to blow up the hall.
Holding two kitchen knives taped to his wrists, using similar tactics to the 2017 attack, he began stabbing people inside the building.
Several fought back, including a chef working at Fishmongers’ Hall who grabbed a narwhal tusk from the wall to use as a weapon, and a convicted murderer attending the conference.
Khan fled and began stabbing pedestrians outside on the north side of the bridge.
Several people were injured before members of the public and a plain-clothes British Transport Police officer, later seen walking away with a knife, restrained and disarmed Khan on the bridge. One of the people who stepped in to fight the attacker drove him back by spraying a fire extinguisher.
Armed City of London Police arrived a short time later and surrounded the attacker, who was being held down by a man. They pulled this person away to provide a clear shot, before firing twice. Khan died at the scene.
“Victims” and “Heroes”
The victims have since been named as Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. They were apparently Cambridge graduates attending the Institute of Criminology event. There is still relatively little information about them available, although Merritt’s alleged father, David, has made a statement some would consider political in nature.
Three other alleged victims, two seriously injured and one with minor injuries, have been announced but not yet named.
A alleged classmate of Merritt’s, who now works for the New York Times, wrote a piece about him.
UPDATE: David Merritt has since had a column in the Guardian: ‘Jack would be livid his death has been used to further an agenda of hate’.
The heroes of the narrative have shifted.
The current hero list is the “Polish chef” known only as “Lukasz”, who apparently used a Narwhal tusk as an improvised weapon to fight back, and James Ford, a convicted murderer. Plus a couple of unnamed ex-convicts also attending the IoC event.
“Lukasz” has reportedly been awarded a special award by the Polish government.
But the first “hero” to appear, on Friday, was this man:
He was described, early on, as a “hero” who “disarmed the attacker”. It has now been announced he was “a plain-clothes British Transport Police officer”. He has never been named.
The articles which first carried the video and the stills from the video have now blurred out his face.
This article from Buzzfeed, detailing “The People Who Bravely Stepped In To Stop The London Bridge Attacker” does not mention him at all.
UPDATE: The metropolitcan Police issued a statement on their “officer”, brought to our attention by @IAmFrankButcher on twitter:
The Metropolitan Police Service have asked that his image be pixelated, and we are kindly asking the public and media to respect this request and not identify the officer in any way.
You can read the whole statement here.
The politics isn’t going entirely as you’d expect. There has been very little talk of Corbyn being “soft on terror”, indeed most of the political fall-out has been aimed at the Tories.
It’s perhaps noteworthy that this attack comes only a few weeks after the UK’s terror alert was downgraded.
There has been an unusually mixed message in the media, suggesting deeper than usual divisions somewhere in the heart of the deep state.
The latest polls put the UK in “hung parliament terroritory”, and given the coverage of both this incident and the election in general, it’s becoming ever more likely that this the desired outcome.