Vidya Ram

London assailant was British born, known to security forces

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 15, 2018


IS claims responsibility; 8 arrests made in 6 raids conducted in London and Birmingham

A lone British-born attacker, who was known to police and MI5, was responsible for the attack on Westminster on Wednesday that left three people as well as the alleged assailant dead, and around 40 others injured.

Details of the as yet unnamed attacker emerged on Thursday, as reports suggested that Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility, describing the assailant, who was shot dead just within the parliamentary security cordon, as one of its soldiers.

The attacker, whose name is yet to be released, had been a “peripheral figure” who had been investigated several years ago in connection to concerns about violent extremism, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs, who gathered in the House of Commons, a day after a nearly four-hour lockdown, following the attack. “The case is historic — he was not part of the current intelligence picture…there was no prior intelligence of his intent — or of the plot,” she said.

The claim of responsibility from ISIS was made via Amaq, according to the Associated Press. Amaq was the news agency used by IS following the attack on Berlin last December, when a truck was driven into a Christmas market killing 12 people, and following the Brussels attack last March.

Britain’s security level remains at the “severe” level it has been for the past two years, meaning an attack is highly likely, rather than being raised to “critical” because there was no intelligence of a specific threat.

Eight arrests have been made following six raids conducted in London and Birmingham, police confirmed. The car driven by the assailant, which rammed at high speed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing into the barriers around Parliament, was hired from a car rental service in the city of Birmingham. 29 people remained in hospital on Thursday, with seven of those in a critical condition. Two of the dead have been named: 48-year-old Police constable Keith Palmer, a member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command for the past 15 years, and 43-year-old Aysha Frade, a teacher of Spanish origin. No Indian citizens have been reported impacted, the embassy has confirmed.

“It is still our belief that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley.

A minute’s silence was held in Parliament and at Scotland Yard on Thursday morning, and a vigil was set to take place in central London for the victims, after this paper went to print.

The attack on London came exactly a year after the terrorist attack on Brussels, in which 32 people were killed in bomb attacks at the city’s airport and at a subway station in the Maelbeek area. Intelligence services group, Soufan, said on Thursday that while recent attacks in Europe lacked the “formal command and control” previously associated with terrorism, “most attackers have engaged in some level of communication, inspiration or even direction from members of groups such as the Islamic State or al Qaeda…Unfortunately, the simplicity encourages similar attacks, and the threat of such attacks will remain high for the foreseeable future.”

Published on March 23, 2017

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