09 August 2021

Streatham operation ‘could not have been more effective’, inquest hears

09 August 2021

The undercover police operation which resulted in terrorist Sudesh Amman being shot to death in broad daylight after going on a minute-long stabbing rampage “could not have achieved a more effective result”, a senior officer said.

The strategic firearms commander, a superintendent responsible for the firearms strategy on the day 20-year-old Amman struck, said he believed tactics used at the time were the correct course of action.

Amman was under round-the-clock armed surveillance when he stole a kitchen knife from a shop on Streatham High Road, south London, and began stabbing members of the public at random, shortly before 2pm on Sunday February 2 2020.

Both victims survived.

He had been released from Belmarsh prison 10 days earlier and was seen buying items from Poundland which he later used to fashion a crude imitation of a suicide belt, which he was wearing when he was shot dead.

Sudesh Amman running along Streatham High Road during his 62-second stabbing rampage (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

The inquest previously heard police and MI5 decided against arresting him, two days before he struck.

The officer, known only as BX88 to protect his identity, defended police actions at Amman’s inquest on Monday.

He said: “In the context of an armed operation, one person lost his life and others were injured.

“I have reflected a great deal and I have to say, I have been back through this in my mind from a personal perspective, I don’t see how we could have achieved a more effective result with the circumstances presented to us.

“I know that sounds harsh because Amman lost his life.

“We were responding to his actions, and his actions were attempting to kill people.”

Sudesh Amman walking along Streatham High Road (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

The witness added: “I think the mitigation measures in place were incredibly successful to manage that risk.

“We don’t work in a risk-free environment.”

Last week, the senior office investigating Amman at the time denied suggestions from his family’s lawyer that the undercover operation was a “massive failure”.

The officer, known as HA6, said: “The professionalism and the bravery of those officers and what they prevented … it could have been far, far worse.”

The inquest previously heard how Amman was deemed to be “one of the most dangerous individuals” that police and MI5 teams had investigated, and that police feared an attack would be “when, not if” during discussions a fortnight ahead of his release.

He was automatically released from Belmarsh on January 23, part-way through a 40-month sentence for obtaining and disseminating terrorist materials.

This was despite police pleas to the governor to detain Amman for longer after intelligence suggested he maintained an extremist mindset, wanted to carry out a knife attack in the future, and pledged allegiance to the leader of so-called Islamic State.

Amman, who is originally from Coventry and of Sri Lankan descent, but was previously of Harrow in north-west London, spent his short time after being released from custody living in a bail hostel in Streatham, during which time undercover police teams monitoring him remarked at his “concerning” behaviour.

The inquest continues.

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