The 02/02 London knife-man: profile and context analysis

The Terror Event

On February 2nd 2020, at approximately 2pm, a 20 year old individual stole a knife from a shop located on Streatham High Road, London, and he immediately began stabbing civilians passing by. [1]

Police officers reached the scene approximately one minute after the attacker initiated the assault and shot him dead. The officers saw that a device was strapped to his body and called in specialist explosives officers and additional armed officers to deal with the potential threat. The suicide vest then turned out to be fake. Three civilians were injured in the attack and in the police counter-offensive. [2]

The attacker, Sudesh Amman, was under police surveillance at the time of the attack as he had just been released from prison and was being hosted at a near-by bail hostel (while in Approved Permises). [3]

The Attacker

1. Personal Info

Name: Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman (20)

DOB: December, 1999

POB: Harrow, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Citizenship: British

Mother: Hamila Khan (41)

Father: Faraz Khan (44)

Siblings: five younger brothers

Notes about the family:

  • Sri Lankan origins;
  • Children brought up by the mother;
  • Father (described as a womanizer and drinker) left family after meeting another woman and moving back to Sri Lanka;
  • Social services were involved with the family. 

Personal Activities:

  • Sudesh Amman was raised in North-East Harrow, home to a vast Sri Lankan Muslim community;
  • He attended Park High School in Stanmore;
  • He studied Math and Science at the London North West College (Sept 2017-May 2018). According to his mother, he wanted to study Bio-Medic Sciences;
  • He attended mosque in traditional clothes.

2. Online Activity

The post-millenial Sudesh Amman was an assiduous internet user.

He spread pro Isis and pro al-Qaeda propaganda through Whatsapp and Telegram. He sent to behading video to his girlfriend telling her to kill her parents, described as “misbelievers”.

In April 2018 Dutch online jihadist hunter and blogger, Azazel van den Berg, captured screenshots showing Amman as having posted an image of a jihadi black flag along with another of two guns and a knife and with the writing “armed and ready” indicating a supposed attack date, the 3rd of April (see the picture).

Screenshot taken from Telegram by the dutch blogger and “jihadwatcher”, Van den Berg

Faraz Amman stated the Quranic legitimacy of raping Yazidi women.

He shared jihadist material in a family group on Whatsapp (which included mother and brothers) where he incited to perpetrate pipe-bomb attacks. He also shared instructions to build improvised explosive devices with an unknown user.

Ha was probably a Call of Duty player (a shooter videogame) and, as he wrote in a Telegram chat, he wanted to bring the game to real life. He claimed: “we want to have fun with hoor al ayn [the virgins in paradise] and play COD irl [play Call of Duty in real life]”. He also used the nickname “stragertothisworld” in online communities. [4] [5] [6]

3. The Arrest

In May 2018 Faraz Amman was arrested by Met Counter Terrorism agents and charged with nine offences of dissemination of terrorist material and seven offences of collection of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, in relation to the material found on his digital devices. He was first been under police observation due to a claim posted on Telegram (see the “armed n rdy” picture above). In December 2018, Faraz Amman was sentenced to three years and four months of prison, but he was released early, on January 23rd 2020. [7] [8]

During the arrest search in his apartment the police seized:

  • Air gun
  • Black Isis flag
  • Combat knife
  • “Bloody Brazilian Knife Fighting Techniques” (book)
  • “US Army Knife Fighting Manual Techniques and Close Combat” (book)
  • “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” (article from an al-Qaeda magazine)
  • “US Army Improvised munition handbook” (book)
  • “The Anarchist’s cookbook” (book)

He consequently spent 13 month confined in the Belmarsh High Security Prison.

4. Radicalization Path

It is possible to identify two phases in Faraz Amman’s radicalization path.

1st phase, pre-arrest (prior to May 2018)

Influencing factors: male family friend and online activity and contacts.

It is yet unknown if individuals attending the mosques in Harrow may have had any type of influence in Faraz Amman’s radicalization path.

2nd phase, incarceration time (Dec 2018 – Jan 2020)

Influencing factors: supposed socialization with criminals.

5. Acquaintances opinions

Peers Opinions

Classmates affirmed that he liked to pose in gangster-style look and he had even told them: “When I grow up I am going to be a terrorist”.

They described him as a “weird loner” obsessed with knives and constantly using marijuana.

One former female classmate exposed how Faraz Amman kept saying:“I am going to bomb you…I have got a grenade in my pocket and if you take one step closer to me I am going to set it off.”

Another schoolmate described him as a ‘weird’ dope-smoker who skipped school and showed up in dirty uniform. [9] [10]

Neighbors Opinions

Some neighbors described the family as problematic: “The family was noisy, always trouble in there. The house was smashed up, there were fights inside, holes in the walls”.

Others point them out as a “loving family” and Sudesh Faraz Amman as “a nice and polite boy”.

Another neighbor pointed out to the religious factor: “I used to see him go to the mosque. Before that he was all right and he started going there and he kind of changed, you could see it in him”. [11]

Final Comments

Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman wanted to die as a martyr, as emerged by the written content found by police agents in his notebook and by previous claims made to his former classmates, as well as during the trial.

The notes found by the police expressed a clear motivation: 1- die as a “shahid” (martyr); 2. Go to “Jannah” (heaven); 3- Have fun with the hoor al ayin (virigins); 4- party with his brothers and mother (in heaven). The fact that he was wearing a fake suicide vest only confirms this suicidal tendency, as the intent was plausibly to receive fatal gun shots and to reach heaven.

Faraz Amman took action only 10 days after being released from prison and was under police surveillance. This could very well mean that the individual had clear plans way before his release and that the time spent behind bars only contributed to an additional radicalization.

The ID used by the attacker in some chatrooms (“Stranger to this world”) could indicate how he felt different from others or, eventually, how he wanted to be different. It is also evident how the terrorist “figure” satisfied his need for a new identity.

His fascination for violence (knives, explosives, combat publications, shooting games, beheadings) combined with the traits of a loner who did not hide his thoughts, clearly raised some red flags.

One conclusive consideration must be made in relation to his early release from prison, which remains a big question mark to many. Why did that occur? The British judicial system will have some explaining to do.


[1] https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/5242205/is-streatham-high-road-closed/

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351844

[3] https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-sudesh-amman-caught-on-cctv-being-tailed-by-police-before-attack-11927725

[4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7963185/Sudesh-Amman-fantasised-killing-police-Sunday-went-knife-rampage.html

[5] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/02/sudesh-amman-17-year-old-student-became-terrorist-shot-police/

[6] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10877234/streatham-jihadi-terror-guides-attacks/

[7] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7963185/Sudesh-Amman-fantasised-killing-police-Sunday-went-knife-rampage.html

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/02/streatham-attacker-was-released-terror-offender-sudesh-amman

[9] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7963185/Sudesh-Amman-fantasised-killing-police-Sunday-went-knife-rampage.html

[10] https://news.sky.com/story/streatham-terror-attack-what-we-know-about-sudesh-amman-11925200

[11] Ibid

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