A senior police officer has insisted an operation was ”incredibly successful” in managing the risk of a terrorist who stabbed two people in a busy shopping street while under surveillance.
Sudesh Amman grabbed a 20cm carving knife from a shop and attacked two passers-by in Streatham High Road, south London, on 2 February last year.
The 20-year-old from Queensbury, north London, was shot dead by armed covert surveillance officers who chased him, 62 seconds after the attack began.
Both victims survived.
Amman had been released from Belmarsh jail on 23 January 2020 after serving half of a more than three-year sentence for obtaining and distributing material for terrorist purposes.
He had boasted in jail that he had a “strong desire to go to the after life” and had openly shared a desire to kill the Queen, become a suicide bomber and join ISIS.
An officer, referred to only as BX88, was a superintendent acting as the strategic firearms commander across London.
His review of the firearms authority recorded that Amman had an “extremist mindset” but it was not corroborated by any intelligence of actual planning or preparation.
The officer told an inquest into Amman’s death that he was “treating the subject as emotional and mentally disturbed” based on the terrorist’s “aspirations and desires” as well as “questionable mental health issues”.
BX88 told the hearing they were “in the business of managing risk but can’t eliminate it all together.”
Rajiv Menon QC, for the Amman family, said: “I’m not criticising the officers on the ground, they did what they could in unarguably difficult circumstances, but ultimately the risk wasn’t managed, Mr Amman stabbed two people and was shot dead.”
But the officer said: “Even in circumstances where he snatched [a knife] the mitigation measures in place were incredibly successful in managing that risk.”
Mr Menon accepted that Amman “alone bears responsibility for that and had he not been shot and killed he would have stood trial” but said Amman could have been arrested after buying Iron Bru bottles, tape and foil to make a fake suicide vest two days earlier.
BX88 said: “Had we at any stage prior with the investigation team looked at some point of interception, I am confident Mr Amman would have come out with greater awareness of the monitoring we had and a greater focus on countering surveillance.
“And when – not if – he would have launched an attack we would not have had the advantage of surveillance officers as close as they were.
“That would have made the risk to the armed officers and to the public much greater.”
The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice continues.