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Streatham terrorist ‘tried to stab woman while knife was still in packaging’

Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police on Sunday after grabbing the knife from a shop and attacking two bystanders in Streatham High Road.

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Police conduct a finger tip search following the terror attack in Streatham (Aaron Chown/PA)

Police conduct a finger tip search following the terror attack in Streatham (Aaron Chown/PA)

Police conduct a finger tip search following the terror attack in Streatham (Aaron Chown/PA)

A woman attacked by Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman has revealed she escaped harm because he tried to stab her with a knife still in its plastic packaging.

The woman, 36, originally from the Dominican Republic, told the BBC the incident was “horrific” and “like a movie”.

In an interview translated from Spanish, she said she is struggling to walk the streets again after the traumatic experience.

Amman, 20, was shot dead by police on Sunday after grabbing the knife from a shop and attacking two bystanders in Streatham High Road, south London. A third person was injured by flying glass during the gunfire.

He had been jailed for possessing and distributing terrorist documents in December 2018, but was freed automatically halfway through his sentence less than a fortnight ago.

It comes as Amman’s father Faraz Khan said he did not realise his son had been radicalised in prison and “never thought he would go this far”.

The woman, referred to as Rosa although it is not her real name, said she was in a shop in Streatham High Road when Amman pushed her and tried to knife her.

She told the BBC:  “He came in and took a knife and he looked like he was leaving the shop. The owner thought he was going to stop by the cashier to pay.

Sudesh Amman
Sudesh Amman was shot dead by armed police (Met Police/PA)

“But… he pushed me, he tried to open and remove the plastic packaging from the knife, but he didn’t manage.

“He pushed and he stabbed me but the knife was still covered with plastic.”

Rosa described the incident as “spending 15-20 minutes in hell” and said she has not been able to sleep since.

Amman had been staying at a nearby bail hostel, while under 24-hour police surveillance.

Security services regarded him as an “extremely concerning individual”, a source told the PA news agency.

It is thought that police monitoring intensified in the days before the attack as his behaviour grew more concerning.

While in Belmarsh high-security prison, Amman reportedly told a fellow inmate that he wanted to murder an MP and copy the killing of Jo Cox, according to the Times.

Mr Khan, who left the UK for Sri Lanka three months ago, told Sky News: “I spoke to Sudesh one day before he passed away. I didn’t know he had become radicalised.

“He was reciting the Koran to me and he was translating that to me.

“He’s never spoken to me about these kind of things. He would never talk to me about naughty things.

“I heard they found a lot of things and I saw them on the news, but I never thought he would go this far.”

How the Streatham terror attack unfolded
(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, one of Amman’s victims has been named in reports as teacher Monika Luftner.

In a statement, St Bede’s Catholic Infant & Nursery School in Lambeth said a member of staff was making a “good recovery after experiencing a shocking attack”.

The Government is now pressing ahead with plans for emergency laws to keep terrorists behind bars for longer, by ending automatic release halfway through a sentence.

There are 224 terrorists in prison in Great Britain, with most thought to be holding Islamist-extremist views, according to the latest published figures to the end of September.

As many as 50 terrorists could be freed from jail this year, figures suggest.

On Monday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said emergency legislation was needed to make sure offenders serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are considered eligible for release, at which point their case would be considered by a panel of specialist judges and psychiatrists at the Parole Board.

Streatham terror attack
Police officers outside a property on Leigham Court Road, Streatham (Yui Mok/PA)

The new law is expected to be passed by the time Parliament goes into recess on February 13, despite warnings that this could prompt legal challenges from those already serving sentences set under previous rules.

Senior Cabinet minister and former justice secretary Michael Gove told Sky News that terrorists should be imprisoned indefinitely “if necessary”.

However, Downing Street acknowledged that there was nothing to prevent prisoners being automatically released until the emergency law is passed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman would not say if any terrorists were due for release before the new law comes in.

The Government did not rule out derogating – effectively suspending – the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to apply the new measures.

About 50 terrorists are released from prison each year, according to officials, and the figure is expected to be similar in 2020 unless rules change.

Home Office data shows 41 convicted terrorists were released from jail in the year to June, as well as 12 suspects who had been held in custody but not sentenced.

PA