Thursday, 23 March 2017

Westminster attacker was British citizen known to authorities

Theresa May has told Parliament that the Westminster attacker was a British citizen who was known to police and security services.
In a statement in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said the attacker was a "peripheral" figure who had once been investigated by MI5 over concerns about violent extremism.

She said: "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 by MI5 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."

It comes after eight people were arrested during raids in London, Birmingham and elsewhere linked to the terror attack in Westminster.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley, the Met Police's senior anti-terror officer, confirmed that two members of the public were fatally injured and PC Keith Palmer, a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Squad, was killed during the attack.

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, he said a woman in her mid-40s - identified as Aysha Frade - and a man in his mid-50s had died from their injuries after they were mown down on Westminster Bridge.

The man has not been identified.

Mr Rowley said 29 people had been treated in hospital with seven people in a critical condition.

He added that the attacker, who has also not been named, is believed to have been working alone and was inspired by "international terrorism", adding there was no specific information to suggest any further threat to the public.

"We must not allow terrorists to create discord, distrust and fear," he said.

Three police officers who were injured by the vehicle are in a stable condition in hospital, according to Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh.

Armed police raided a flat in Hagley Road, in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, on Wednesday night.

A witness who works nearby told the Press Association: "The man from London lived here. They came and arrested three men."

Dozens of officers, some armed, were pictured outside the second floor flat, above a parade of shops, which was cordoned off by police.
Roads around the home were initially closed off, but later reopened although officers remained at the scene.

Car hire firm Enterprise confirmed the Hyundai car used by the attacker was one of its vehicles, reportedly rented from its Solihull branch.

It said an employee had identified the vehicle after seeing the number plate online and added it was co-operating with authorities.

The suspect, armed with two knives, drove into pedestrians with a car on Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings in front of Parliament at around 2.30pm on Wednesday.

He was shot dead after going through a gate towards the Palace of Westminster and attacking PC Palmer.

Following the attack the Prime Minister said the UK's terror threat level would remain at severe.

Mr Rowley said leave had been cancelled to allow for an increased presence of police in London.

The House of Commons and House of Lords sat at their normal times on Thursday.

MPs in the Commons stood to observe a minute's silence at 9.33am - a time chosen to coincide with PC Palmer whose shoulder number was 933 - and tributes were paid to the officer in the Commons.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the working assumption is that the Westminster attack is linked to Islamic terrorism.

He said security arrangements at Westminster will be reviewed following the deadly attack to look at whether they are "adequate" and whether police at the front gates should be armed.

SKY    News.