On Sunday in London, England, according to witness accounts and authorities, a man wearing a fake suicide vest entered a store, grabbed a large knife, ran outside with it and began to stab people. Reportedly he injured a man and two women on Streatham High Road, London. Armed plainclothes officers, already surveilling him for counter-terrorism purposes, chased him on foot. The officers eventually shot him dead, reportedly outside a Boots store, at around 14:00 local time in what the police declared a “terrorist-related” attack.
An eyewitness described for news agency PA Media how the attack unfolded, stating, “I was crossing the road when I saw a man with a machete and silver canisters on his chest being chased by what I assume was an undercover police officer […] The man was then shot. I think I heard three gunshots but I can’t quite remember.”
Two women and a man were injured, according to the reports. The man was briefly listed in critical condition. A woman had minor injuries reportedly from glass shattering after police discharged their firearms, and the remaining woman was in “not life-threatening” condition.
The attacker, identified as Sudesh Amman, 20, was placed under police surveillance after being released from prison a week ago. He was imprisoned in 2018 when he was 18 and served half his sentence for 13 separate terror offenses. Amman, who was described as “knife-obsessed” by the police, sent his girlfriend videos of beheadings and extremist text messages, and advised her to kill her “kuffar” (non-Muslim) parents. He told her on one occasion: “If you can’t make a bomb because family, friends or spies are watching or suspecting you, take a knife, molotov, sound bombs or a car at night and attack the tourists (crusaders), police and soldiers of taghut [idolatry], or western embassies in every country you are in this planet.”
Alexis Boon, the head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said about Amman: “His fascination with dying in the name of terrorism was clear in a notepad we recovered from his home. Amman had scrawled his ‘life goals’ in the notepad and top of the list, above family activities, was dying a martyr and going to ‘Jannah’ — the afterlife. It’s not clear how Amman became radicalised but it is apparent from his messages that it had been at least a year in development. Whatever the circumstances, this case is a reminder of the need to be vigilant to signs of radicalisation and report it.”
Police also recovered a bomb-making guidebook in his position and, on investigation in his family home in London, a black flag and an air gun.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, thanked “the police, security and emergency services staff for their swift and courageous response”.
“Terrorists seek to divide us and to destroy our way of life,” said Khan, “here in London we will never let them succeed.”
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, tweeted: “Thank you to all emergency services responding to the incident in Streatham, which the police have now declared as terrorism-related. My thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.”