The poundshop terrorist who yearned to kill the Queen in name of ISIS
The poundshop terrorist who yearned to kill the Queen in name of ISIS: How ‘weird’ stoner ‘loner’ Sudesh Amman, 20, went from fake gangster to ‘one of the most dangerous people MI5 has ever investigated’ – but his mother insists she ‘never saw it coming’
Terrorist Sudesh Amman who committed the Streatham attack in south London last year was a stoner ‘loner’ and a wannabe gangster as a child.
But the 20-year-old, who was shot dead after stabbing two people on the high street, morphed into ‘one of the most dangerous people MI5 has ever investigated’.
His childhood was spent skipping school to take drugs, fantasising about killing police and dreaming of bringing shooting games to life.
Amman’s mother was pregnant with him when she arrived in Britain from Sri Lanka in September 1999 and claimed asylum on the basis that she was part of the oppressed Tamil minority.
Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman was born three months later, on December 27, 1999, in Coventry and his parents went on to have five further children, all boys.
When he was born, Amman’s father made a mistake on his birth certificate because he had difficulties with English, and the real family surname was Faraz.
They lived in Coventry for five years where Amman attended a Catholic primary school before the family moved to Handsworth in Birmingham.
They were granted indefinite leave to remain in 2006, when Amman was six, and at the end of that year, paid a three-week visit back to Sri Lanka.
Shortly after their return to Britain, his father decided to move back to Sri Lanka but continued to visit the family on a number of occasions over the years.
One source described Amman (pictured) as ‘a bit odd’ and ‘self-destructive’ and said he would probably have become involved in drugs and crime if he had not become fascinated with terrorism. Pictured: Amman striking a gangster pose
In August 2007, Amman’s mother and all the children moved to Stanmore in North London where Amman started at Kenmore Primary School – a 1,650-strong school that got Outstanding in its most recent Ofsted inspection – before leaving in 2016
Amman spent the days leading up to the stabbing frenzy alone and praying in a bail hostel, having been released early from a terrorism sentence at Belmarsh prison
In August 2007, Amman’s mother and all the children moved to Stanmore in North London where Amman started at Kenmore Primary School – a 1,650-strong school that got Outstanding in its most recent Ofsted inspection – before leaving in 2016.
Among the alumni is actress Tessa Peake-Jones, who played Del Boy’s partner Raquel in Only Fools and Horses.
His mother claimed Amman was appointed a prefect but in fact children’s services became involved with the family over concerns about his attendance.
Between the ages of 12 and 16 Amman attended Park High School in Stanmore, a mixed-sex state comprehensive.
From the age of 13 onwards he was playing online roll play computer console games and a ‘first person shooter’ game called Call of Duty.
He began smoking cannabis with friends and his first involvement with the police was at the age of 15 when teachers suspected he had a knife in his bag at school.
As a result of the incident and concerns about Amman’s ‘episodes of anger’, he was referred to child and adolescent mental health services.
A social services report noted: ‘There have been concerns about his father being violent towards his mother and siblings as well as using cannabis.
‘It is recorded that he fled the UK in 2012 following a stabbing incident’ and was said to have re-married in Sri Lanka.
Amman is pictured as an innocent young boy in a family photo. His mother has spoken of her ‘disgust’ at his actions
Amman is pictured as a boy pulling a face while playing on the pavement. At school he was involved in numerous violent incidents
Former classmates in the London suburbs talked of a ‘weird’ loner who was obsessed with knives, constantly smoked marijuana and even claimed that he was carrying around grenades
Amman moved to the Jubilee Academy to complete year 11, which was an alternative provision secondary school, specialising in dealing with pupils with behavioural difficulties.
In January 2016 he was suspected of being under the influence of illegal substances, possession of tobacco and smoking in school.
In April 2016, Amman and his brother attacked another student before school with a weapon, resulting in the window of a commercial premises being smashed.
Amman was said to have pulled a Samurai sword and a black revolver from his waistband and chased the victim.
Girls who knew Amman at school remembered a sinister side to the boy who used the nickname ‘StrangerToThisWorld’ in online chatrooms.
One former female classmate said: ‘He kept on saying, ‘I am going to bomb you’. He said: ‘I have got a grenade in my pocket and if you take one step closer to me I am going to set it off.’
‘We thought he was joking, but he kept on saying it. ‘He said: ‘When I grow up I am going to be a terrorist.’
Another described him as a ‘weird’ dope-smoker who bunked off from lessons and turned up to school in dirty uniform.
At parties he was ‘always in the garden smoking weed’ and would not socialise with classmates. She added: ‘In hindsight there were loads of red flags that he was capable of something like this.
‘He was very weird and everyone thought he was strange. He stuck out like a sore thumb. He was always smoking weed and would skip school to do it or bunk off during the day to smoke it. He spent so much time in isolation because of how rude he was to teachers or for bunking school.
‘His skin was never clean and his school clothes were always dirty. His crowd were the weird kids, just different to everyone.’
The former classmate added: ‘He was obsessed with knives. He loved them, all types, and he would have pictures of them on his phone and he would always talk about buying them on the dark web.
‘He would bring some in his rucksack to school and show some of us sometimes – and always talk about them in detail.’
Amman is pictured as a young boy, posing with a neck chain while eating food. Between the ages of 12 and 16 Amman attended Park High School in Stanmore, a mixed-sex state comprehensive
He moved on to study at Barnet Southgate College but in February 2017, there was another incident, this time in Barnet High Street, when he assaulted a fellow pupil, punching him in the head, striking him with a broken glass and threatening to kill him.
Amman was charged with common assault and threatening a person with an offensive weapon but in April, while on bail, he was stopped by police on London’s South Bank smoking cannabis and found with two stolen Oyster cards.
For the threats and drugs offence he was sentenced to a 12-month referral order, which meant he had to ‘engage’ with the youth offending service.
Amman was out of school between April and September 2017, spending his time in his room playing his Play Station and speaking to his friends online.
He grew a beard, took to wearing a prayer cap, and started praying five times a day.
Harrow social services assessed the family in May 2017 for a ‘children in need’ plan. Their biggest concern was the influence Amman was having on his siblings.
The social workers noted that he also had an influence on his mother and that she was ‘trying her best to manage the household’ but had a ‘fear’ of him.
He was described variously as a ‘disturbed and confused child’, ‘stubborn, aggressive and challenging,’ and ‘rude and aggressive with professionals’. ‘He has clearly got anger issues,’ the report added.
Under the heading ‘family and social relationships’ the report noted Amman expected his mother to do everything for him and he didn’t have many friends.
On May 30 2017 there was a youth offending team home visit when Amman became verbally aggressive and said professionals were calling him a terrorist, adding: ‘Great Britain isn’t so great.’
He was referred to government’s Prevent de-radicalisation programme on June 8 but the multi-agency panel determined that the information didn’t meet the threshold for referral for ‘channel’ intervention.
A mental health assessment report said that Amman had ‘violent tendencies and thoughts of committing violent attacks on others’ and that he had paranoid thoughts about the police hacking his phone.
Amman claimed that he was affiliated to a gang called SCG Wealdstone but had since ‘walked away from the gang.’
He also claimed to have seen the decapitation of human bodies on a visit to Sri Lanka and that he worshipped at a ‘secret mosque’ where some members were under police surveillance.
The youth justice board conducted an ‘asset plus assessment’ in August 2017 which noted his ‘inability to control aggressive outbursts.’
It suggested that he had learned this behaviour from episodes of violence in early childhood.
Amman, his five younger brothers and their parents grew up in a number of ‘chaotic’ houses in Harrow. Pictured: One of the houses in Harrow where Amman lived with his mother and brothers
Timeline of terror: Sudesh Amman’s ten days between prison release and tragedy
Here is a timeline in the case of Sudesh Amman, the convicted terrorist who stabbed and injured two people in Streatham High Road in February 2020.
– January 23 2020
- Sudesh Amman, a 20-year-old from Harrow in north-west London, is automatically released from Belmarsh prison, having been handed a 40-month sentence for 13 counts of obtaining and distributing material used for terrorist purposes. He is released to a probation hostel in Streatham, south London, despite pleas from police and MI5 to keep him in custody for longer due to his extremist views.
– January 24
- Amman, who is originally from Coventry, is placed under daytime surveillance by plain clothes officers.
– January 29
- A decision is made to allow those surveillance officers to carry firearms.
– January 30
- Amman’s covert surveillance is relaxed slightly, meaning there would be no coverage between 6am and 10am due to intelligence about Amman’s lack of movement at this time of the day.
– January 31
- Amman is seen looking at knives in a shop and buying items from Poundland that police – presciently – fear could be used to create a hoax suicide belt. These items include a parcel tape, aluminium foil and four 250ml bottles of Irn-Bru soft drink.
- Police and MI5 officers hold an emergency meeting with HM Prison and Probation Service, but the latter decides to put Amman under 24-hour surveillance rather than to recall him to jail and blow the cover of the covert operation.
– February 1
- Amman is placed on ’round-the-clock’ – i.e. 24-hour – surveillance. This includes armed covert police, as well as uniformed officers nearby. He leaves his flat just once, for around 22 minutes at lunchtime, to go to a nearby takeaway for a chicken meal.
– February 2
- 1.22pm – Amman leaves his approved premises, the probation hostel, in Leigham Court Road.
- 1.50pm – Amman is seen in Streatham High Road. He is said to be walking ‘very slowly’, appearing lost, and changing direction at various times.
- 1.57pm – The 20-year-old enters a shop called Low Price Store. He is inside for barely a minute, and emerges with a knife which he has stolen. He is pursued by undercover police. Amman stabs two people, a man and a woman. Both survive.
- 1.58pm – Amman, reaching Boots, turns to face the officers. They shoot at him, with at least two shots hitting him. A total of 62 seconds after running from the shop, Amman falls to the ground.
- 2.40pm – A police explosives expert arrives on the scene to check and carefully remove the device around Amman’s waist. It contains three bottles, wrapped in tin foil and attached to a belt with brown tape. It is later identified as a hoax.
- 3.24pm – Amman is pronounced dead by a paramedic.
Under ‘future behaviour’ it noted: ‘May commit offences or behave in harmful ways in the future’ and added: ‘Spends a lot of time in his room watching Youtube videos.’
It warned that he ‘may be exploited by extremist groups’ a result of his desire for ‘self-esteem and his desire to fit in.’
In September 2017, after several months out of education, Amman went to North West London College in Dollis Hill to study for a medical science BTEC, level three, with placements in pharmacies in the Wembley and Harrow area.
Amman was referred to Prevent for a second time and in a session with his case worker on February 5 2018, he discussed the meaning of extremism.
The report noted that Amman could ‘understand why people might fight on behalf of sunni groups as they were suffering in different parts of the world.’
While children’s services were trying to grapple with Amman’s violence and drug taking, a far more sinister side to his character was developing behind the closed door of his bedroom.
He kept a notebook in which he wrote down instructions for making plastic explosives from bleach and noted that his ‘goals in life’ were: ‘Die as a shuhada’ [martyr] and ‘go to jannah’ [paradise].
Amman had developed a fascination for knives, and had bought a combat knife and downloaded three manuals on knife-fighting techniques from Amazon.
He only came to the attention of police through a Dutch blogger, Mark Van Den Berg, who runs an anti-extremist blog called Azazel.
The police were alerted after the blogger told them that a user with the name @StrangerToThisWorld, had posted a YouTube link to a gay rights activist at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.
The post to a Telegram chat group, said: ‘Guys in the UK, this should be our target…all united together for an attack at Hyde Park.’
The image on his Telegram account, which went live in April 2018, featured, a knife lying on the barrel of a rifle, on the black flag adopted by jihadists.
He used the image with the Arabic words: ‘Armed and ready, April 3.’ The date was a reference to a letter posted to mosques by a right-wing activist declaring the date ‘Punish a Muslim Day.’
Amman was arrested by armed police near his home and when police searched the family home they found a BB air pistol that had been painted black to look like the real thing, a combat knife, and a black ISIS flag.
Police then looked at Amman’s computer and discovered he had been discussing extreme views on jihad, infidels, and his own desire to carry out a terrorist attack, with his family, friends and an online girlfriend.
‘Much of his fascination with conducting an attack was focused on using a knife but reference was also made to committing acid attacks on mopeds,’ Kelly Brocklehurst, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey.
He was so bent on violence that his response to a perceived slight was to tell his girlfriend she should kill her ‘kuffar [infidel] parents.’
But his personal ambitions went further, and he told his girlfriend that he had conducted a reconnaissance trip around Queensbury in North West London and was ready to launch an attack.
He told his girlfriend he preferred knives over guns, asked if he could get a machete delivered to her house, and talked of making sure he ‘targets those who don’t look like Muslims.’
Amman also told his girlfriend that any Muslim not supporting ISIS were apostates and talked about slaughtering apostates and kuffars [non-believers] with a sharp knife.
He sent her an al-Qaeda bomb-making guide called ‘Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom’ and a quote in a Skype conversation on April 2 that read: ‘To my brothers the supporters of the Islamic State. What are you waiting for to take actions? Put your trust in Allah and strike.’
Body worn camera footage issued by the Metropolitan Police showing armed officers approaching the prone body of Amman
Mobile phone footage issued by the Metropolitan Police today of armed officers approaching Amman as he lays prone
Amman also sent his girlfriend a series of ISIS videos including one that showed prisoners in military fatigues being burned alive by fighters.
Police also discovered that Amman was part of an insidious WhatsApp group with his mother and younger brothers which he used to send them radical and violent material.
He used the display name Sudais, and shared ISIS propaganda from an online magazine called Inspire, and material by the al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.
He openly discussed his views on jihad and wanting to commit it and also shared photos of a large machete and a photo of himself with an ISIS flag superimposed in the background. NOTE
The ‘La Familia’ family Whatsapp group had 11 members, including adult family members, some of them in Sri Lanka, but none notified the police.
Photographs posted to the La Familia Whatsapp group showed his younger brothers in their bedroom with a black ISIS flag, posing with BB guns, and sitting around a table using the ISIS one-fingered salute.
In one message he told them ‘radicalising is not wasting time’. He had also told his brother 15-year-old brother that ‘ISIS still exists’ that it is ‘everywhere’, and that it ‘can never die.’
However, it was not just talk, and Amman had downloaded a number of manuals showing how to kill people, including one called Bloody Brazilian Knife-Fighting Techniques.
The 79-page manual included instructions on inflicting damage to the human body with various types of knives and improvised weapons, including how to target the vital organs of an opponent in order to inflict ‘quick loss of consciousness and death.’
Amman pleaded guilty to six counts of possessing material useful for terrorism and seven counts of disseminating material.
He smiled and laughed throughout the hearing at the Old Bailey, including when he was told that he was facing a custodial sentence of ‘some length.’
As he was taken to the cells after being sentenced to a total of three years and four months in jail, reduced because of his age, he kept smiling and waved to his mother and brother in the public gallery.
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