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LONDON: The family of the man murdered in the London Bridge attack in 2019 criticized the surveillance system used to track potential terrorists as “poorly managed” and “totally dysfunctional”.
Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were stabbed to death by Usman Khan during an event hosted by Cambridge University’s Learning Together program at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.
Learning Together brings together students and prisoners as part of a rehabilitation and learning experience.
Khan had participated in the program as a “peer mentor” alongside the students while serving a prison sentence for attempting to set up a terrorist training camp.
On Friday, an investigative jury warned that Khan’s high-profile status within Cambridge’s rehabilitation program had “blinded the authorities” to the threat he posed, and that “the omissions and failures” also had played a role in allowing the attack to take place.
The investigation also found “serious shortcomings” in Khan’s management after his release from prison in 2018, as well as failures by the security services to guide staff monitoring him.
There had been “unacceptable management, lack of accountability and management gaps by MAPPA,” a mechanism that allows police and prison authorities to cooperate and oversee the release of high-risk offenders, according to the investigation. .
Khan’s attempts to prepare for the attack were unknown to authorities despite police and MI5 surveillance and tight probation control.
Before the attack, he bought knives and materials to make a fake suicide vest. He was also allowed to travel to London from the West Midlands without being escorted.
Following Friday’s investigation, Merritt’s mother told the Daily Mail: “The whole MAPPA process was totally dysfunctional. It’s life or death that they get it right. It is catastrophic if it does not go well. It is unforgivable.
Her father said: “Everyone seems to have walked with their eyes closed and not seeing what they didn’t want to see. MAPPA was a mess. It was poorly managed. They didn’t know what they were dealing with.
MI5 and the West Midlands counterterrorism police “have been complacent and passive in the face of the extreme and continuing threat from Khan,” he warned.
While serving his prison sentence, Khan was listed as a ‘high risk’ Category A prisoner, which placed him among the UK’s 70 most dangerous inmates. He had also been involved in violence in prisons and in attempts to radicalize fellow inmates.
Just before his release, MI5 received information that Khan “wanted to carry out an attack”, but the information was not shared with his probation officer. MAPPA was also unaware that he was the subject of an MI5 investigation.
Merritt said there “remain troubling questions” as to why the intelligence was not shared with the authorities overseeing Khan’s release.
The investigation described the two students killed as “wonderful young people” who “touched the lives of so many people” through their work in rehabilitating prisoners.
“Jack’s family believe the Learning Together program needs to be properly safeguarded, and that has not happened in this case,” the Merritt family said in a statement.
“But such activities must continue. To do otherwise would be to allow Khan’s attack on liberal democracy and the values that underlie it to have won.