Westminster Attacker Was 'Peripheral Figure' In Earlier Investigation, May Says
The man who carried out a deadly attack near Britain's Parliament was known to police and intelligence services, and had previously been investigated, Prime Minister Theresa May says. Speaking in the House of Commons Thursday, May said the man was British-born.
"Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure; the case was historic; he was not part of the current intelligence picture," May said of the attacker. She added that investigations continue.
"Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology," May said.
Calling it "an attack on free people everywhere," May said, "We are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism."
Britain's Metropolitan Police have made eight arrests and searched six addresses in Birmingham and London as part of a counter-terrorism operation in response to the attack that killed a police officer and two civilians and wounded several others around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Police believe the attacker acted alone. And while they know his identity, they're not releasing that information yet.
May also shared more details about the attack and those it harmed, saying it injured around 40 people. Of three police officers who were wounded, two remain in hospital.
In addition to 12 Britons, the wounded are from around the world, May said. They include four South Koreans, three French children, two Romanians, two Greeks, along with nationals of the U.S., Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy, and other nations.
Speaking of slain police officer Keith Palmer, 48, a husband and father who had previously been in the military, May said, "He was every inch a hero, and his actions will never be forgotten."
"Authorities say a small SUV barreled into pedestrians along the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge, causing multiple 'catastrophic injuries' to pedestrians .... After striking the pedestrians on the bridge, the SUV then crashed into the fence that surrounds Parliament. A man armed with a knife emerged and stabbed a police officer before being shot to death by police."
When he was finally stopped, the attacker had come within 20 yards of Parliament's gate, May said.