Westminster attacker British man ‘known to MI5’ says Theresa May


Investigation continues into attack that left four dead and parliament in lockdown

PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has announced that a British man arrested in connection to the attack on the Westminster Parliament yesterday was known to the MI5 intelligence agency, but had been thought to be a “peripheral figure”, among domestic terror threats.

There have been eight arrests since the attack yesterday afternoon (23 March), though May confirmed that the attacker is thought have “acted alone.”

During the incident a car was driven by the attacker along the pavement of Westminster Bridge killing two pedestrians and injuring many more before crashing into gates around the parliament. The attacker then entered the grounds of the parliament and fatally stabbed a police officer before being shot by other officers. Four have now been confirmed killed in the attack.

The parliament was locked down for several hours afterwards, with hundreds of parliamentarians, staff and members of the public inside, as emergency services attended to the injured and secured the area.

The area around Westminster in London is under heavy police security

In a statement to the House of Commons today, May said: “What happened on the streets of Westminster yesterday afternoon sickened us all.

“While there is an ongoing police investigation, the House will understand that there are limits to what I can say.

“But, having been updated by police and security officials, let me set out what at this stage I can tell the House.

“At approximately 2.40pm yesterday, a single attacker drove his vehicle at speed into innocent pedestrians who were crossing Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring around 40 more.”

She added: “Mr Speaker, it is still believed that this attacker acted alone, and the police have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public.

Police brief the press on the incident near Westminster yesterday

“His identity is known to the police and MI5 and, when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified.

“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that – some years ago – he was once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure.

“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. Intensive investigations continue.”

She said that the “working assumption” of the ongoing investigation was that the attack was “inspired by Islamist ideology.”

Four were killed and around 40 injured in the attack at Westminster

Devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales suspended their activities yesterday following the attack.  

Responding to the statement in the Commons, the leader of the SNP’s Westminster groups, Angus Robertson said: “Today is not a day for detailed questions, so will the Prime Minister accept on behalf of the Scottish National Party and no doubt all others our huge debt of gratitude to all police and security agency staff who are working so hard to keep everyone in this country safe.

‘’Does she agree with me that no terrorist outrage is representative of any faith or faith community and we recommit ourselves to strengthening the bonds of tolerance and understanding.

‘’Is it not best to follow the advice of Brendan Cox, the husband of our murdered MP colleague Jo Cox who has said: ’In the days to come I hope we will remember the love and bravery of the victim not just the hatred and cowardice of the attackers.’”

Pictures courtesy of Gerry Martin

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