Fishmongers’ Hall killer downplayed terror crimes in job search, inquests told

Usman Khan on board a train to London (CCTV/Metropolitan Police/PA)
Usman Khan on board a train to London (CCTV/Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
13:50pm, Fri 30 Apr 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Homegrown terrorist Usman Khan sought to diminish the seriousness of his offending during his frustrated attempts to find a job following his release from prison, an inquest jury heard.

The 28-year-old promised Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff he had moved away from terrorism, and was no longer having “dark thoughts” following his eight-year sentence in prison for plotting a jihadi training camp in his parents’ homeland of Pakistan.

Even in the days before he fatally stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at a prisoner education event at Fishmongers’ Hall, Khan was protesting he had put his old ways behind him, telling DWP area manager Julia Nix: “I’m 100% positive, I don’t have any terrorist thoughts at all.”

Ms Nix told the inquests into their deaths at City of London’s Guildhall that Khan spoke only briefly about the crimes which resulted in him being classified a high-risk category A prisoner.

She said: “He (Khan) said he had done something serious.

“But on a scale of A-Z he felt, although it was terrorism, it was on the ‘A scale’ because it was purely fundraising.”

She added: “He was quite articulate… (he said) he had moved away from individuals, he had purposefully put himself in a place that he would not be influenced.

“He had no dark thoughts, he promised me he had no terrorist thoughts.”

Usman Khan (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Ms Nix said she sought to help Khan get a job, but was unsuccessful.

She said she was concerned Khan may be having suicidal thoughts in October 2019, due to the nature of a text message he sent her disclosing his frustrations.

She said: “He wanted to thank me very much for all my help and support but (he) had to be realistic that in spite of all my efforts he might never get a job.

“I phoned him.

“I thought the urgency was quite great because I didn’t know if he was having suicidal thoughts.

“He was very grateful, very relieved to hear my voice.

“I was happy to engage with him and motivate him.”

She said she spoke to Khan in the days before the atrocity, telling him she had passed his CV to a network of employers supporting ex-offenders.

“He was absolutely delighted,” she said.

Khan, from Stafford, travelled to central London on November 29 2019 to attend a function by Learning Together, during which he armed himself with knives and a fake suicide belt and attacked delegates.

He was shot and killed by police as he fled onto nearby London Bridge.

The inquests were adjourned until Tuesday.

Sign up to our newsletter