A convicted terrorist who committed a knife attack in south London that ended in his shooting death by police told a mentor just days earlier that he had changed his ways, according to an investigation.
Sudesh Amman, 20, was shot and killed by police after he ran down Streatham High Road on February 2, 2020, randomly stabbing members of the public and wounding two people.
Amman, of Coventry and of Sri Lankan heritage, had recently been released from prison in the middle of a 40-month sentence for preparing for and participating in acts of terrorism.
An investigation into his death has been carried out in the Royal Courts of Justice and it emerged on Wednesday that he had received the support of a practical and theological mentor when he was released from Belmarsh prison in January.
Three days before the knife attack, he indicated that he was no longer a risk, and told his mentors that he realized that those who committed terrorist acts ended up “turning people away” from Islam.
The two mentors, known in court as Witness M and Witness T, described being “shocked” and “stunned” when they realized they knew the man responsible for the violent attacks.
A report prepared by Witness M, read by Jonathan Hough QC, attorney for the investigation, said: “[Amman] he said now he realizes that people who hurt other people through acts such as acts of terror are leading people away from faith and provoking hatred. “
Providing evidence for the investigation on Wednesday, Witness M said that Amman had been “more relaxed than he had seen” in his four previous face-to-face talks, both in prison and outside. Witness M added: “I took him at his word. He seemed sincere from the way he said it. “
The second mentor, Witness T, said it was his duty to discuss religious matters with Amman during their only meeting, on January 29, 2020. He said he was very surprised when he learned of the attacks. “I was stunned, I was shocked, I was shocked,” he told the investigation.
Amman Parole Officer Leon Campbell noted Amman’s risk of serious harm to the public prior to his release from prison and said he did not take at face value Amman’s later claims that he no longer he had an extreme mentality.
He told the investigation: “I thought there were elements of him telling me what I wanted to hear.”
He went on to describe how he first learned of the atrocity when he received a phone call from Amman’s mother while she was with her family after having ignored his previous repeated attempts to contact him. He said: “She was crying on the phone. I remember her saying, ‘Is it him, is it him?’ “
So high was concern among counterterrorism officials about the risk that Amman might still have posed, that on his release he was placed under surveillance. Then concerns increased and on January 29, the agents who followed him were authorized to carry firearms.
Two days later, Amman entered Poundland and purchased items including a roll of brown tape, aluminum foil, and a few bottles of Irn-Bru, some of which he used to make the fake bomb belt.
Detective Superintendent Dominic Murphy said earlier in the investigation that on the day of the attack Amman was being followed by an officer on a motorcycle, some in cars and some on foot.
The investigation also previously heard how prison intelligence suggested that he had threatened to kill the Queen, commit a terrorist act and radicalize others.
The investigation was postponed until Thursday.