Johnson Vows To Toughen Terror Rules After London Attack

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to crack down on terrorism rulings following a London terror attack. Days after extremist Sudesh Amman was released prior to the completion of his jail term, Johnson told the U.K. press that he had “come to the end of [his] patience” with the release of offenders before the end of their sentence. 

Amman, 20, was jailed in 2018 for possession of terrorist documents and distributing terrorist publications, having previously supported the Islamic State group and encouraged his girlfriend to murder her parents. He was shot and killed by police on Sunday, February 9th after he stabbed two people with a 10-inch blade on a busy London road. 

Amman had been under government surveillance since his release on January 23rd. He conducted his stabbing rampage, which lasted approximately 60 seconds, with a phony bomb strapped to his body. No one was killed aside from Amman himself; two of the three victims were discharged from the hospital, and the third is in serious but stable condition. Amman’s mother told Sky News that she had spoken to him the morning of the attack, and that he seemed normal both then and when she had seen him several days prior. According to authorities, he was 17 years old and living at home when he first began committing acts of terrorism.

The British government had previously said that they would be strengthening anti-terrorism legislation after a prior offender killed two people and injured three more at London Bridge last November; he was killed by police. “We do think it’s time to take action to ensure that people – irrespective of the law that we’re bringing in – people in the current stream do not qualify automatically for early release,” said Johnson in a speech following the attack. 

“Offenders will no longer be released early automatically and any release before the end of their sentence will be dependent on the risk assessment of the parole board,” Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Parliament, adding that emergency legislation would be enacted to ensure that terrorism offenses were dealt with as quickly as possible. 

“We have an issue about if you have about 200 or so inside, the question is how do you detain them?” Johnson told the press. “Do you detain them en bloc as it were in one group and try and keep them together because that avoids them infecting or passing the virus of their beliefs to others in jails. Or do you disperse and try to stop them reinfecting each other?”

Johnson has since publicly claimed that Britain’s efforts to ‘deradicalize’ and ‘rehabilitate’ extremists have been unsuccessful. Britain currently has 220 people imprisoned for terrorism-related convictions. Under concerns from the public that prisons were ‘breeding grounds’ for extremism, the British government unveiled its plans in 2016 to isolate extremist convicts in high-security prisons in order to limit their ability to expose other inmates to their viewpoints. 

There is a primary issue with this approach, which many British citizens have taken note of and expressed concern over. This type of confinement often results in the exposure of inmates with terrorism convictions to other inmates with terrorism convictions, creating a network of potential for the spread of terrorist rhetoric. 

By placing extremists with others that have been identified as extremists, the British government runs the risk of perpetuating the same terrorist ideals and attacks that they are attempting to prevent. This could have more severe impacts, including an increased risk of civilian deaths in incidents, which must be addressed in the ‘urgent proposal’ regarding maintenance of terrorism convictions that the government has promised.