If the most recent terrorist attack in London had been an episode in a satirical novel, it would have been dismissed as too crude or absurd to be plausible.
Last week, Usman Khan attended a conference at Fishmongers’ Hall, a grand location in Central London, marking the fifth anniversary of Learning Together, a rehabilitation program for prisoners run by Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology. Suddenly, Khan, wielding a knife and wearing an imitation suicide vest, went on a rampage, killing a graduate of the institute who helped run the conference and a volunteer worker, as well as injuring three people.
If Khan hadn’t been stopped on London Bridge by others attending the conference, he would have killed others.
In 2012, Khan, along with eight others, was convicted for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange, kill then-Mayor Boris Johnson and plant bombs in synagogues, among other places; he had also planned to set up a training camp for terrorists in Kashmir. His 2019 attack was evidently no flash in the pan or rush of blood to the head. After all, he was a disciple and close friend of the extremist preacher Anjem Choudary.
Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal, the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of many books, including Out into the Beautiful World and the recently published False Positive: A Year of Error Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine (Encounter Books). This piece was adapted from City Journal.
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