London Bridge terror attack: when should terrorists be released from prison?

armed police
Armed police stand guard near London Bridge after the attack. Photograph: Daniel Sorabji/AFP via Getty Images

Are terrorism cases dealt with differently from other cases?///BY CRIMSON TAZVINZWA


After the terrorist attack in London last week, political parties in the UK are blaming each other.

A man recently released from prison for a terrorism offence killed two people in a terrorist attack that has been leapt upon by politicians ahead of the election next week.

Britain London Attack
London Bridge attack was one of dozens of convicted terrorists released early from prison in Britain; reaction from Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.


Terrorism is the use or threat of action, both in and outside of the UK, designed to influence any international government organisation or to intimidate the public.  It must also be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.


  • serious violence against a person or damage to property,
  • endangering a person’s life (other than that of the person committing the action),
  • creating a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public,
  • action designed to seriously interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

The attacker, Usman Khan, had been attending a conference on the rehabilitation of offenders. He killed Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, and was himself shot dead by police.

terror suspect
UK counterterrorism police on Saturday searched for clues into how a man imprisoned for terrorism offenses before his release last year managed to stab several people before being tackled by bystanders and shot dead by officers on London Bridge. Two people were killed and three wounded

Terrorism crimes are difficult to police in that the sentencing, rehabilitation and parole are all emotive subjects that are best debated outside of an election cycle.

Terrorism crimes and terrorist-related offences are subject to the criminal justice system in the same way as all other crimes. The CPS reviews the case and makes a charging decision in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. However, terrorism offences are distinct from other types of crime in that individuals who commit terrorism-related offences have political, religious racial and/or ideological motivations, unlike typical criminal motivations, which may be personal gain or revenge, for example. The CPS and Metropolitan Police have specialist units that were set up specifically to undertake terrorism cases and there are four other police Counter Terrorism Units (CTUs) around the country.

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