Jailbreak, British Style

It has been widely reported that Usman Khan, the London Bridge terrorist, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of the term to which he was sentenced in 2012. Khan was one of a group of nine jihadists who were arrested in 2010 for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange. They also contemplated “Mumbai-style” terrorist attacks, and one of the plotters had a hit list that included the names and addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Boris Johnson (then Mayor of London), two rabbis–naturally–and the US Embassy in London.

The Daily Mail now reports that of the nine, only two are still in prison, while the remaining six were released, like Khan, well before their terms had been served. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Somewhat ironically, Khan’s rampage occurred at a conference on prison reform that was taking place at Fishmongers’ Hall. One of his victims, 25-year-old Jack Merritt, was a prison reformer. Merritt was a “course co-ordinator for a Cambridge criminology department initiative called Learning Together, in which students in universities and prisons ‘learn degree-level material alongside one another.'” Usman Khan was a participant in the Fishmongers’ Hall event:

According to the Learning Together schedule of the day, Khan began his terror spree during the storytelling and creative writing session.
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The 28-year-old attacker is understood to have been invited to share his experience of prison….

Thus:

In a cruel irony, Mr Merritt was killed at a criminology event by one of the convicts he was trying to rehabilitate: 28-year-old terrorist Usman Khan….

Mr Merritt believed that Khan’s apparent redemption was a powerful case study of how a life could be changed for the better, but it now appears his rehabilitation was a sham intended to hide his murderous intentions.

Merritt, who by all accounts was a fine young man, was a believer in social justice from an early age. His father tweeted:

My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.

Despite the outrage currently being expressed in Great Britain over Khan’s attack, I doubt that the elder Mr. Merritt has much to worry about on that score.

I draw no particular conclusion except to note that around the world, “prison reform” mostly comes down to letting dangerous criminals out of jail. The consequences are left for innocent citizens like those murdered at London Bridge to bear.

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