London Bridge terrorist's family 'truly sad' about attack, inquest told

28 April 2021, 14:56 | Updated: 28 April 2021, 15:09

Usman Khan during a 'thank-you' message for a Learning Together event in Cambridge in March 2019
Usman Khan during a 'thank-you' message for a Learning Together event in Cambridge in March 2019. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The older brother of convicted terrorist Usman Khan has apologised in court to the families of those killed in the Fishmongers' Hall attack.

The sibling, who cannot be named for legal reasons, condemned his brother's actions, saying he was unaware of any plans to carry out the atrocity.

"We are truly, truly sad of the events that happened," he said.

READ MORE: London Bridge terror victim's mother pays tearful tribute to son

He also explained that, when news of the attack emerged, their mother was concerned her son had been hurt, not that he was responsible.

Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were killed at a prisoner education event in central London 18 months ago.

Giving evidence at the inquests into the deaths at City of London's Guildhall, Khan's older brother by seven years turned towards grieving relatives and said: "First all, sincere condolences to Jack and Saskia's family.

"We are truly, truly sad of the events that happened.

"Whoever's been affected physically or mentally, we are really sorry as a family - really, really sad.

"I just wanted to get that off my chest."

Saskia Jones died in the November 2019 attack
Saskia Jones died in the November 2019 attack. Picture: PA

Khan's brother closed his evidence by adding: "We totally condemn his actions. Totally condemn."

The sibling said, despite both living in a three-bedroom house between 2005 and 2010, he did not pay attention to what Khan was doing with his life, assuming he was "chilling with his friends" and that he "kept everything to himself".

When Khan became involved in distributing extremist literature in 2008, and later admitted charges linked to a terrorist plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange, the news was "a total shock" to his family, the court heard.

The brother was shown pictures from local Stoke paper The Sentinel of Khan holding extremist leaflets and waving a jihadi flag in the street, as well as with extremist Anjem Choudary.

Nick Armstrong, for the family of Mr Merritt, told him that despite his claims that his brother kept everything to himself, he was "literally standing in the street waving a flag".

Jack Merritt was also killed in the attack
Jack Merritt was also killed in the attack. Picture: PA

Mr Armstrong said: "He (Khan) was a nasty, violent, self-regarding piece of work.

"All the signs were there, and you looked away, didn't you?

"You saw none of that."

After his release from prison in December 2018, the brother said Khan would regularly visit the family home but would routinely dismiss any queries from them about his past.

The sibling said: "He used to brush it off (and say) 'don't think about the past'.

"He said: 'I was young, I was silly, I got into stupid things'."

The inquests have previously heard how Khan was involved in a string of violent incidents and "extremist bullying" during his eight years in seven prisons for planning a terrorist training camp.

Jurors were also told Khan had been an "influential" inmate who associated with other high-profile terrorists including Fusilier Lee Rigby's killer.

He had engaged with prisoner education programme Learning Together while in jail, and travelled to London from his home to attend a five-year celebration event at their request on November 29, 2019.

The brother said he saw Khan the Sunday before the Fishmongers' Hall attack and said he had no idea what he was plotting, after evidence suggested Khan went out to buy gaffer tape used to strap knives to his hands an hour after the pair saw each other on November 20.

"If I had seen anything, I would have relayed it," he said.

Khan was pursued on to nearby London Bridge by three bystanders, armed with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk in an attempt to disarm him, where he was shot by police.

The inquests continue.