Boris Johnson has condemned the early release of criminals after it emerged that the man who carried out the latest London Bridge terror attack was a convicted Islamist who had been freed from prison on an electronic tag.
Two people were murdered and at least three more seriously injured when the suspected jihadist, wearing a fake suicide vest, went on a rampage at a criminal justice seminar he was attending.
Police named the man as Usman Khan, a 28-year-old from Staffordshire. Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police's assistant commissioner, said his team were carrying out searches at the suspect's residence but believe that he was acting alone.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the extraordinary bravery of members of the public and the emergency services who helped tackle the maniac, describing them as “the very best of our country”.
But he also said he had "long argued" it was a "mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early”.
He added: “It is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see."
Temporarily suspending his election campaign, Mr Johnson said Britain would never be “cowed, divided or intimidated” by those who brought terror to the streets and he vowed to hunt down and bring to justice anyone else involved.
The incident began just before 2pm on Friday when the attacker, who had been attending the Learning Together criminal justice conference at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge, began stabbing fellow delegates with two large knives.
It is understood the former prisoner, who was still on licence and whose movements and travel were restricted, had been given permission to attend the event along with other convicted criminals.
The killer is thought to have attended the morning session, taking part in various workshops in which he described his experiences as a prisoner, before launching his deadly attack without warning.
On Friday night it was feared the victims were students and academics who had been at the event.
Despite the fact he was wearing a fake suicide belt and threatening to blow himself up, the attacker was bravely challenged, including by at least one former prisoner who was also attending the event.
After running out of Fishmongers’ Hall onto London Bridge, the attacker was dragged to the ground, with passersby also joining in to restrain him and prevent more carnage.
Just five minutes after the alarm was first raised, armed officers from City of London Police arrived on the scene and, after pulling members of the public off the man, shot him dead.
Coming just days before the country goes to the polls, Friday's attack bore chilling similarities to the outrage at Borough Market on June 3, 2017 five days before that year’s general election.
Then, eight people were murdered by an Isil-inspired cell of three attackers in fake suicide vests who drove across London Bridge, ploughing into pedestrians and stabbing people before being shot dead by police.
The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox took place in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum vote.
On Friday night security sources confirmed that the attacker - who is not thought to be from London - was known to the security services and had terrorist connections as well as a conviction.
An urgent review has been ordered into why he had been released early under licence.
Sources also said there were a number of raids taking place overnight, with the security services and counter terrorism police desperate to establish who the attacker had been associating with.
Conservative and Labour suspended campaigning last night as a mark of respect to the victims but said they would review the matter over the weekend.
Mr Johnson cancelled Saturday's appointments to focus on the response.
Paying tribute to those who had bravely intervened, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “What’s remarkable is the breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them.”
Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, said that police had first been called at 1.58pm and officers from City of London Police had tackled the attacker by 2.03pm, just five minutes later.
Dame Cressida said: "The empty ideology of terror offers nothing but hatred and today I urge everyone to reject that."
Judge warned about Khan's release
When Khan was sentenced in 2012, Mr Justice Wilkie said he was a "serious jihadist" who should not be released while he remained a threat to the public.
The judge said Khan's group were involved in a "serious, long-term venture in terrorism" that could have resulted in atrocities in Britain. Wilkie said: "In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community, subject to conditions, by reference to a preordained release date."
Khan, along with two co-conspirators, originally received an indeterminate sentence for public protection but this was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he was given a 16-year jail term. In February 2012, Khan was ordered to serve at least eight years in prison.
Khan was part of Stock Exchange plot
Usman Khan was convicted in 2012 for his role in the Stock Exchange plot, a Christmas bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange, the American embassy and the home of Boris Johnson, who was then the London mayor.
As reported by The Telegraph, when police searched Khan's home in Stoke, they recovered a folded A4 sheet of paper which bore notes of the structure, roles and responsibilities of individuals in a terrorist cell.
It included the headings ‘structure’, ‘responsibilities’, ‘communication’ and ‘local’ and appeared to be written by a co-conspirator.
Khan pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism.
Cambridge 'mourns the dead'
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said he was "devastated" that an event organised by its Institute of Criminology was targeted in the attack.
He said: "I am devastated to learn that today's hateful attack on London Bridge may have been targeted at staff, students and alumni attending an event organised by the University of Cambridge's Institute of Criminology.
"We are in touch with the Metropolitan Police, and awaiting further details of the victims.
"We mourn the dead and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured. Our thoughts are with all their families and friends."
Attack started at Learning Together event
The police said in a statement that "the attacker attended an event earlier on Friday afternoon at Fishmongers' Hall called 'Learning Together'."
"We believe that the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto London Bridge, where he was detained and subsequently confronted and shot by armed officers.
"Extensive cordons are likely to remain in place for some time and I would ask the public to continue to avoid the area.
Man and woman killed
The Metropolitan Police also confirmed that a man and a woman were killed in the attack while three others, one man and two women, remain in hospital.
Killer was known to police: Met's full statement
Usman Khan was convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences and released from prison in December 2018 on licence, Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police's assistant commissioner said.
In a statement, Basu said police were searching Khan’s Staffordshire home and that they believe he was acting alone.
"Whilst we are still in the early stages of the investigation, at this time we are not actively seeking anyone else in relation to the attack.
"However, we continue to make fast time enquiries to ensure that no other people were involved in this attack and that there is no outstanding threat to the public.
"Police were called at 13:58hrs to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge, EC1. Emergency services attended, including officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police.
"A male suspect was shot by specialist armed officers and I can confirm that he died at the scene.
"We are now in a position to confirm the identity of the suspect as 28-year-old Usman Khan who had been residing in the Staffordshire area. As a result, officers are, tonight, carrying out searches at an address in Staffordshire."
"This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence and clearly, a key line of enquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack."
Police have identified the suspect of the London Bridge attack as Usman Khan, a 28-year-old man from Staffordshire.
Bystander confronted attacker with 5ft narwhal tusk
One of the bystanders took on the attacker with a 5ft narwhal tusk he had taken off the wall in Fishmongers' Hall. Amy Coop, who was in the building when the attack occurred, tweeted: