A strange game of destiny regarding the dramatic terrorist episode claimed by ISIS on London Bridge has unfolded.
According to what has been reported by various British media outlets, James Ford is among the “heroes” who faced and blocked the jihadist aggressor. But his name will probably not tell the average reader anything.
Ford happens to be a convicted murderer who stabbed a disabled woman in 2004: in April of 15 years ago he strangled and slaughtered Amanda Champion, a 21-year-old girl with a mental age of 15 due to learning problems. The young woman’s body was found abandoned on a rubbish heap in a wasteland near her home in Ashford, Kent.
Ford was eventually arrested after a Samaritans worker broke his vow of anonymity to tell police that Ford had contacted the charity and confessed to him, The Independent reported. The Samaritans worker was fired after that.
The 42-year-old Ford was therefore sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum sentence of 15 years. The victim’s family had tried to block Ford’s conditional release.
Sources in Whitehall confirmed that the man – who had served the last days of his sentence at the HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Kent – was at the scene of the terror attack in London. The Ministry of Justice has currently refused to comment.
However, the murdered woman’s relatives are not at all happy with the news and said they were rather irritated by this portrayal of Ford. “He is not a hero. He is a confirmed assassin.”
Amanda’s aunt told the media: “He killed a disabled girl. He is not a hero, absolutely not.” The gesture made by the 42-year-old was obviously not enough to obtain forgiveness from the victim’s family.
“Now he is classified as a hero, but he is not: he is a cold-blooded murderer. For no reason, he has just come out and killed a disabled person. I do not care what he did today, he is a murderer. He’s scum. Amanda was my niece, she was vulnerable and he took her life. He knew what he was doing. People don’t change.”
The aggressor, considered “a very dangerous man”, never revealed the reasons why he carried out the violent action. A judge told him: “Amanda was walking through that area of the woods at the wrong time. You grabbed her, you strangled her and you cut her throat, making her suffer a terrible and lonely death.”
Ford was out of prison on a day release when he helped to disarm convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who stabbed a man and a woman to death and injured several others on Friday.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the jihadist Khan had demanded to join a deradicalisation programme – including sending a letter in October 2012, asking the Home Office to provide an aid worker to this end.
His lawyer, Vajahat Sharif, told the BBC that Khan’s hate was for the West was extremely deeply-rooted. Kahn, according to the statement released by the jihadist agency Aamaq, had “responded to appeals to hit the countries of the Coalition” and was committed to the fight for the Islamic State.
In yet a stranger twist of fate, Jack Merritt, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, who taught courses for prisoners and friends, was one of the two people stabbed to death in the attack on the London Bridge, according to the BBC.
The identity of the other person – a woman – who was killed in the Islamist attack in the United Kingdom is still unknown.
The victim’s father, David Merritt, wrote on Twitter that his son Jack “was a wonderful spirit, who has always taken the side of the oppressed”. From his Twitter profile, is it clear that Jack was a progressive, re-tweeting the posts of left-wing MP, Diane Abbott.
Audrey Ludwig, a colleague of Jack Merritt, told the broadcaster about the “deep commitment” of the victim “to the education and rehabilitation of prisoners”.
In 2010, the London killer, barely aged 19, was part of a group of Pakistani jihadists, but residing in Stoke-on-Trent, Cardiff and London. The nine extremists had prepared a plan to blow up the stock market in the heart of the city by placing a bomb in the bathrooms.
They were also raising funds among British Islamic communities to finance a “military training center for terrorists in Kashmir.
For this Khan and the other eight were considered “dangerous jihadists” and were sentenced to prison in 2012. In the sentence the judge had even recommended not to release them, but the 28-year-old was in fact on probation and, according to local media, he wore an electronic bracelet.
He had promised authorities, that he “no longer had the same opinions” as before his arrest. “I was immature at the time and I am now much more mature and I want to live like a good Muslim and a good British citizen.”
The attack was also filmed by some passers-by: a video released on social media shows some pedestrians trying to stop the jihadist, before he was hit by a bullet from a police officer.