A convicted terrorist told a prisoner education programme two weeks before he murdered two of their academics Charles Bronson advised him to ‘just do it.’
Lisa Ghiggini, a communications lead with education programme Learning Together, said Usman Khan spoke to her ‘a lot’ about Bronson following his release from prison for terror offences in December 2018.
Khan, 28, went on to kill delegates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a Learning Together celebration event on November 29 2019 at Fishmongers’ Hall.
Khan, armed with knives and wearing a fake suicide belt, was later shot by police on nearby London Bridge after being tackled to the floor by conference attendees.
Usman Khansaid notorious Charles Bronson told him to ‘just do it’ although it is unclear what he meant
Giving evidence at the inquests at Guildhall in the City of London earlier today, Ms Ghiggini recalled how she had several telephone calls with Khan following his release after eight years in prison, and had mentioned Bronson.
Henry Pitchers QC, for Ms Jones’ family, said: ‘You mention Charles Bronson – we’re not talking about the movie star, it’s the notorious prisoner.’
Ms Ghiggini replied: ‘Yes.’
Mr Pitchers asked: ‘Khan told him Bronson said to him words to the effect of: if you’re going to do something, just do it.’
Ms Ghiggini replied: ‘Yeah.’
She said Khan mentioned the Bronson comment to her two weeks before the Fishmongers’ Hall attack.
She added: ‘He had mentioned Bronson before a lot of times.
Charles Bronson told Khan to ‘just do it’
‘But it was the first time he mentioned that in that way.’
The hearing was also told the terrorist sent a video message praising the work of Learning Together, weeks before he brutally stabbed two in a bloody rampage.
Khan beamed in the chilling video as he described how it ‘was kind of family’ to him, in a short clip shown at one of their events in Cambridge.
Khan had not been given security clearance to travel down from Stafford for the Cambridge event, but agreed to record a short ‘thank-you’ message in which he spoke effusively about the opportunities Learning Together offered him in prison.
The video was shown to inquest jurors today at the City of London’s Guildhall.
Learning Together co-founder Dr Ruth Armstrong, who Khan appeared to name-check in the clip, appeared to avert her eyes from the screen in front of her as the video was played as she gave evidence.
In the clip Kha smiled enthusiastically from a chair in his home as he looked down the camera to praise Learning Together.
Saskia Jones, 23, was killed in the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in April 2013
Grinning, he said: ‘Hi, my name is Usman, and basically I’m gonna explain to you how I got to do Learning Together.
‘I was in prison and I did eight years in prison … most of that to be honest with you I did in the segregation unit – I was completely isolated.
But what was different about Learning Together was breaking the barriers, accepting people for who they are.’
‘There has to be an understanding. Learning Together is working together for the betterment of us all.
‘It was also Learning Together – it was kind of family … It is making a difference, and I cannot stress that enough.
Jack Merritt, another of the victims of the knife attack at Fishmongers’ Hall by Usman Khan
‘Before I move on, I would like to say to all the team – thank you very much.
‘It let out my personality, I am comfortable with who I am.’
Khan then read a short poem he wrote, entitled In The Darkness, which included the line: ‘A single seed planted in mud becomes a strong tree.’
The inquests previously heard how intelligence in the prisons system suggested Khan was potentially plotting an attack upon his release from jail in December 2018, and that he was considered ‘the main inmate in the area for extremist views and others’ in summer 2017.
Dr Armstrong wept as she told the inquests that Learning Together were not told of any such intelligence before, during, or after he was enrolled onto their courses.
She said: ‘We had absolutely no indication of any concerns regarding Usman Khan and if we had of course would have made different decisions.’
She added: ‘My expectation is a decision would have been made to remove him.
‘We have had examples of students being removed from the classroom for security reasons … that is a judgment for security services.’
Khan armed himself with kitchen knives and a fake suicide belt when he attacked Cambridge graduates and Learning Together delegates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at the programme’s five-year anniversary celebrations on November 29 2019.
The convicted terrorist was then chased onto London Bridge by fellow attendees, including a serving and former offender, before he was fatally shot by police.
The inquest continues.