What We Know About the London Attack

3 MINS READMar 23, 2017 | 18:24 GMT
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Four people were killed — including the attacker and one police officer — and 40 others were injured in the March 22 vehicular assault on Westminster Bridge and in the knife attack near the Houses of Parliament in London. The attacker drove a Hyundai Tucson over Westminster Bridge toward Parliament, striking several people, including three police officers, before crashing into a gate. He then left the vehicle, knife in hand, and sprinted into Old Palace Yard, where he was tackled by an unarmed police officer. He stabbed the officer, who later died from his wounds, before being shot by a second officer. The attacker would later die from his wounds as well. The area was then put under security lockdown.

What We Know About the London Attack

Parliament was in session and preparing for Prime Minister Theresa May's questions session, which meant the full legislature was in the building. May was moved to a secure location, but the evacuation of Parliament was held up while the bomb squad checked a suspicious package in the vehicle. Eventually the lockdown was lifted. Meanwhile, authorities carried out searches in six locations across London and Birmingham, arresting eight people.

The attacker was initially identified in major media reports as British citizen Abu Izzadeen — born Trevor Brooks. But those reports were withdrawn after his lawyer said Izzadeen is currently incarcerated, a report many major outlets have corroborated. Prime Minister May said March 23 that the attacker was born in the United Kingdom and had been investigated by British intelligence agency MI5, but was "a peripheral figure." London police have since identified the attacker as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old native of Kent who had previously been convicted for crimes, unrelated to terrorism.

The Islamic State-affiliated Amaq News Agency has since claimed that the perpetrator of the attack was a "soldier of Islamic State." The report offered no details of the precise Islamic State connection and no evidence for the claim. Still, the attack took place on the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombing — the largest Islamic State bombing to date in the West.

The tactics are similar to the November 2016 attack in Columbus, Ohio, where a man attempted to run people down with his car before emerging with a knife and stabbing several others. It's easy for grassroots attackers to conduct attacks using readily available weapons such as a mid-sized car and a knife, especially if they are willing to die in the process. A Hyundai Tucson isn't nearly as large or deadly as the trucks used in the vehicular attacks in Nice, France, and Berlin, Germany. Of course, a large truck would not be able to enter that part of London at that hour. Moreover, the attacker was also unable to penetrate building security regardless. Still, vehicular assaults and knife attacks are a simple and effective tactic, in this instance grabbing headlines and disrupting the British capital. It will likely inspire similar attacks.

Editor's Note:

The image and text are excerpts from an in-depth report available to Threat Lens subscribers

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