ISIS hails its ‘soldier’ in deadly London attack; PM calls him ‘peripheral figure’

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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The British-born man who carried out the deadly terrorist attack near parliament in London was a “soldier” of Islamic State, the extremist group has said through its unofficial news agency, Amaq.

RFE/RL Graphic

British authorities say the assailant in the March 22 attack fatally stabbed a police officer after ramming a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, leaving two others dead and 40 injured. They have not released the name of the suspect, who was shot dead by police.

“The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition,” a March 23 statement on Amaq said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons earlier on March 23 that the attacker was “a peripheral figure” known to security authorities and had been investigated over violent extremism. Police had said they were working on the assumption that he was inspired by Islamist terrorism.

“Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” May said.

Britain’s top counterterrorism officer, Mark Rowley, said searches of six different addresses in London, Birmingham, and elsewhere had yielded eight arrests, but he would not discuss further details, as the investigation was ongoing.

Rowley said that seven of the 29 injured people who were taken to hospitals were in critical condition.

“It is still our belief — which continues to be borne out by our investigation — that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism,” Rowley said at a news conference. “To be explicit: At this stage, we have no specific information about further threats to the public.”

The casualties included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Chinese, one American, and two Greeks, May said.

The BBC reported that the vehicle used in the attack was rented last week from a branch of Enterprise car rentals in Birmingham, a Midlands city 165 kilometers northwest of London.

Police said that while the attacker committed the act on his own, they had not ruled out the possibility that others may have been involved.

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