Roshonara Choudhry, Convicted of MP Murder Attempt, Faces Lifetime in Maximum Security Prison

The hope for a transfer to an open prison dims for Roshonara Choudhry, the straight-A student turned Al Qaeda-inspired assailant, as her bid for relocation is obstructed.

Convicted of attempting to assassinate Labour MP Stephen Timms, Choudhry’s potential lifetime in maximum security has been solidified, challenging her pursuit of a more lenient incarceration.

Background of the Crime

In 2010, at the age of 21, Choudhry shockingly attacked MP Stephen Timms with two kitchen knives during a constituency surgery.

Inspired by Al Qaeda and fueled by online radicalization, she aimed to seek revenge for the Iraq war, plunging her promising future into a dark trajectory.

Blocked Move to Open Prison

Choudhry, now 33, underwent an ‘oral hearing’ in January last year, expressing her desire to be transferred to open conditions following a Parole Board review.

Despite the board’s agreement, then-Justice Secretary Dominic Raab intervened, preventing the move based on grounds of public safety. Such interventions are rare, occurring in less than one percent of Parole Board recommendations over the last five years.

Ministry of Justice’s Statement

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson emphasized the priority of public safety, revealing a rigorous three-step test for open prison transfers.

Choudhry, currently believed to be incarcerated at HMP Bronzefield in Surrey, could be eligible for release after serving her minimum term in May next year, coinciding with her next parole hearing.

Choudhry’s Transformation: A Promising Pupil to Radicalized Assailant

Once a star student and aspiring teacher, Choudhry’s transformation from a linguist with straight As in GCSEs and A-levels to a radicalized assailant baffled those who knew her.

Her online radicalization, fueled by terror preachers’ sermons, notably by Anwar al-Awlaki, leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, took a toll on her views and actions.

Online Radicalization and Attack Planning

Choudhry downloaded over 100 hours of Al-Awlaki’s sermons, endorsing violent actions against the West.

Influenced by radical Islamic websites, she meticulously planned the attack on MP Timms, whom she perceived as pro-Iraq war. The assault, carried out during a constituency surgery, left Timms wounded but alive.

Sentencing and Lack of Remorse

During her Old Bailey trial, Choudhry displayed no remorse, smiling during her sentencing via videolink.

She expressed a desire to be a martyr, a sentiment that puzzled MP Timms. Despite the potentially life-threatening injuries, Timms made a full recovery.

Parole Board’s Assessment and Recommendations

The latest Parole Board hearing considered various factors, including social isolation, anger, and feelings of injustice contributing to Choudhry’s radicalization.

While her behavior in prison was described as exemplary, the panel recommended a move to open conditions, emphasizing her need for continued support. The Secretary of State for Justice holds the final decision on such recommendations.

Concerns and Calls for Change

Former Head of the National Counter Terrorism, Chris Phillips, expressed concern over the criminal justice system’s effectiveness.

Calling for a reevaluation, Phillips advocated for treating terrorists like mental health patients, demanding proof of deradicalization before any release or parole.

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