London defiant as IS claims attack by British ex-con, 52
Authorities on Thursday identified a 52-year-old Briton as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism – but was not currently on a terrorism watch list.
As millions of Londoners returned to work a day after a rampage that killed four victims and injured at least 30, British Prime Minister Theresa May had a message for other attackers: “We are not afraid.”
“Today we meet as normal – as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do,” she said to lawmakers’ cheers in the House of Commons.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, which police said was carried out by Khalid Masood, a U.K.-born resident of the West Midlands in central England. Masood plowed a rented SUV into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing an American man and a British woman and injuring more than 30 people of almost a dozen nationalities. He then fatally stabbed a policeman inside the gates of Parliament before being shot to death by an officer.
A 75-year-old victim on the bridge died late Thursday of his wounds, police said.
Vincenzo Mangiacarpe, an Italian boxer visiting Parliament, said he saw the attacker get out of the car wielding two knives.
“You can imagine if someone was playing a drum on your back with two knives – he gave (the policeman) around 10 stabs in the back,” Mangiacarpe said.
The dead were identified as Kurt Cochran, 54, of Utah and British school administrator Aysha Frade, 43 – both struck on the bridge – and 48-year-old Constable Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police. The 75-year-old victim was not identified.
Police arrested eight people on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts as authorities sought Masood’s motive and possible support network. One arrest was in London, while the others were in Birmingham. Police said they were searching properties in Birmingham, London and Wales.
Masood’s convictions between 1983 and 2003 included assault, weapons possession and public order offenses, London police said.
But he “was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack,” police added.