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London Attack: What We Know

Police say there’s “no evidence” Khalid Masood had links to ISIS or al-Qaeda. ISIS claimed responsibility for last week’s attack that killed five people.

An officer stands behind Carriage Gates at the Houses of Parliament in London on March 24, 2017. Darren Staples / Reuters

The latest on Friday, March 24:

—Metropolitan Police say “significant” arrests have been made in connection with Wednesday’s attack.

—Police identified the attacker as Khalid Masood, 52. He was born in the U.K. as Adrian Russell Ajao.

—ISIS claimed responsibility.

—Five people and the attacker were killed. Authorities identified the man who died Thursday from his injuries.  

—This is a developing story and we’ll be following it here. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).


No new updates

The Victims of the London Attack

The Union Jack flies at half-mast in Parliament Square on March 23, 2017. (Stefan Wermuth / Reuters)

Keith Palmer, the police officer who was stabbed by the alleged attacker while guarding Westminster Palace, was the first victim identified in the London attack. The 48-year-old husband and father served as a member of the Metropolitan Police’s parliamentary and diplomatic protection command for 15 years. In a tribute to Palmer Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May said he was “every inch a hero, and his actions will never be forgotten.”

A British woman was also identified as one of the victims. Aysha Frade, a 43-year-old Spanish teacher at DLD College London, had left work and was crossing Westminster Bridge when she was hit by a vehicle driven by the alleged attacker. Rachel Borland, the principal of the college, told The Guardian that Frade was “highly regarded and loved by our students and by her colleagues. She will be deeply missed by all of us.” She is survived by her husband and their two children.

The third victim was identified as 43-year-old Kurt Cochran, an American tourist. According to a statement by Cochran’s brother-in-law, Clint Payne, both Cochran and his wife, Melissa, were in London celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and were scheduled to return to the U.S. Thursday. Here’s more from the family’s statement:

Leslie Rhodes, the fourth victim, died Thursday from injuries sustained during the attack, Metropolitan Police confirmed. He was 75. A retired window cleaner from London, Rhodes was described by those who knew him as “the nicest man you ever met.”

Andreea Cristea, the 31-year-old Romanian woman who fell into the Thames river during the attack on Westminster Bridge, died more than two weeks later. Cristea was visiting London the day of the attack with her boyfriend, who had planned to propose marriage to her later that evening. She is believed to have fallen or jumped off the bridge into the Thames below, and was later pulled out by the London Port Authority. In a statement, Cristea’s family said, “After fighting for her life for over two weeks, our beloved and irreplaceable Andreea—wonderful daughter, sister, partner, dedicated friend and the most unique and life loving person you can imagine—was cruelly and brutally ripped away from our lives in the most heartless and spiritless way. She will always be remembered as our shining ray of light that will forever keep on shining in our hearts.”

Woman Who Fell Into Thames River During London Attack Dies

Darren Staples / Reuters

Andreea Cristea, the 31-year-old woman who fell into the Thames river during last month’s attack outside Westminster Palace, has died, London Police announced Friday. Cristea, a Romanian national, was visiting London with her boyfriend, who had planned to propose marriage to her later that evening. When the attack, in which 52-year-old Khalid Masood struck pedestrians on the bridge with his vehicle, took place, Cristea is believed to have fallen or jumped off the bridge into the Thames below. The London Port Authority managed to pull her out of the water, after which she underwent urgent medical treatment. Her death more than two weeks later marks the fifth casualty in the attack.

London Police Say 'No Evidence' Attacker Had Links to Al-Qaeda, ISIS

(Peter Nicholls / Reuters)

There is “no evidence” to suggest Khalid Masood, the London attacker, had links to ISIS or al-Qaeda, Neil Basu, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said Monday, adding reports that Masood, a convert to Islam, was radicalized while in prison in 2003, is “pure speculation at this time.” Basu did acknowledge, however, there was “clearly an interest in Jihad.” Masood, who was born in the U.K. as Adrian Elms, changed his name in 2005. His last criminal offense was in 2003, Basu said, adding Masood “was not a current subject of interest or part of the current domestic or international threat picture.” ISIS claimed responsibility for last Wednesday’s attack that killed four people, but did not specifically name Masood, who was also killed, in its claim of responsibility. Basu added the investigation is focused on “Masood’s communications” on the day of the attack. “If you heard from him on 22nd March, please come forward now, the information you have may prove important to establishing his state of mind,” he said.

London Police Make 'Significant Arrests' as Investigation Continues

Darren Staples / Reuters

London police announced Friday that two “significant arrests” were made overnight as authorities continue to investigate the attack outside Westminster Palace that resulted in five deaths, including the alleged attacker, and at least 50 injuries. “Nine people remain in our custody and one woman has been released on bail,” said Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Rowley added authorities are seeking more information about Khalid Masood, the alleged attacker who was killed by police Wednesday after he fatally stabbed an officer. On Thursday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and called Masood, who was born in the U.K. as Adrian Russell Ajao, their “soldier,” though the group did not identify him by name. Authorities also identified the fourth victim, who died Thursday of injuries sustained during the attack 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes. You can read more about the victims here.

Death Toll Rises to 5, Police Say

A 75-year-old man who was injured in Wednesday’s attack has died, the Metropolitan Police confirmed Thursday night. The man, who police did not identify by name, is the fifth person, including the alleged attacker, to have died following yesterday’s attack. You can read about the other victims here.

A Minute of Silence at Trafalgar Square

Here’s the video, via the BBC:

London Police Identify Attacker as Khalid Masood, 52

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Metropolitan Police have identified the alleged London attacker as Khalid Masood. The 52-year-old native of Kent had recently been living in West Midlands and was not under investigation by authorities, police said. He was, however, said to be known by a number of aliases, and had been previously been convicted for crimes including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons, and public-order offenses. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and called Masood its “soldier,” though the group did not identify him by name, making it unclear if the group had prior knowledge of the attack or the attacker’s identity. None of Masood’s previous convictions were terrorism related. British Prime Minister Theresa May previously said the attacker was British-born and known to authorities.

Another Victim Identified as American Tourist

The third victim of yesterday’s deadly attack in London was identified as Kurt Cochran, an American tourist. His wife, Melissa, was injured in the attack, and is being treated in hospital. Cochran was identified via a statement from Clint Payne, Melissa’s brother. Here it is, via Payne’s Facebook page.

Our hearts are broken this day as we say good-bye to our dear brother-in-law Kurt. He passed away from the injuries sustained in the London terrorist attack yesterday. We love him so much and will never forget him.
My sister, Melissa, sustained a broken leg, broken rib and a cut to her head. We are grateful that she will recover. Our hearts ache for her and their children in losing their loving companion and father.
Please continue to pray for our family.

The other victims were identified as Keith Palmer, a police officer, and Aysha Frade, 43, a Spanish teacher at a London college.   

ISIS Claims Responsibility

ISIS claimed responsibility for the London attack, calling the assailant its “soldier.” The claim was made on its Amaq news agency, and the claim was translated by SITE, the terrorism-monitoring group.

Attacker Was British-Born and Known to Authorities, Prime Minister Theresa May Says

Prime Minister Theresa May has told the U.K.’s House of Commons the attacker was British-born and was known to both the police and the country’s intelligence services. The attacker had been investigated over violent extremism, but was seen as a “peripheral figure” she said.

Slain Officer in London Attack Identified

Police in London have identified the officer killed in Wednesday’s terrorist attack at Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father who served for the last 15 years. “He was someone who left work today expecting to come home at the end of his shift, and he had every right to expect that would happen,” said Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commission of the Metropolitan Police Service. Police also updated the number of injuries in the attack to 40 people.

How the London Attack Relates to Other Terrorist Attacks

British authorities have launched an investigation into what Prime Minister Theresa May called a “sick and depraved terrorist attack,” noting that the full details are still emerging and that investigators “remain open minded to the motive.” The identity of the attacker has not yet been confirmed, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. But if authorities confirm that the attack is an act of terrorism as suspected, it would mark a departure from recent attacks that have struck less-secure areas in cities such as Berlin, Nice, and Paris. As my colleague Uri Friedman notes, while Wednesday’s attack in London used rudimentary weapons such as a car and a knife, “the target was one of the hardest in the nation.”

In the post-9/11 world of the counterterrorism surveillance state and the internet-radicalized lone-wolf attacker, terrorists typically don’t use sophisticated weapons that might tip off authorities, and it’s easiest not to strike at heavily fortified targets. Instead, they often use easily accessible, relatively crude weapons (knives, guns, vehicles) against “soft” targets (nightclubs, Christmas markets, crowds celebrating Bastille Day).

Foreign Leaders Respond to London Attack

President Trump spoke with Prime Minister Theresa May by phone to offer his condolences on the attack outside Westminster Palace. According to the White House, Trump praised the city’s first responders and pledged “the full cooperation and support” of the U.S. government. The Department of Homeland Security said that though it was working with its British counterparts to monitor the situation, the U.S.’s domestic security posture had not changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed his condolences in a separate statement, noting that “whether [the attacks] were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference.”

In France, President Francois Hollande expressed his condolences over “the attack that has cast a shadow over the United Kingdom.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country faced a similar attack at a Berlin Christmas Market in December, said that “although the background to these incidents still needs to be exactly clarified, I confirm on behalf of Germany and its citizens that we stand firmly and resolutely by Britain's side when it comes to fighting any kind of terrorism.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also offered his condolences to the British—sentiments which far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders called “crocodile tears,” once again attacking Islam in a tweet.

U.K. Foreign Minister Credited With Trying to Save Slain Officer's Life

Photographs emerged of Tobias Ellwood, the U.K. foreign minister, attempting to resuscitate the police officer who was fatally attacked after being stabbed outside Westminster Palace.

Ellwood was pictured kneeling next to emergency responders, during which time he reportedly performed CPR to the injured officer and applied pressure to his wounds. The Conservative politician, who previously served as a captain in the Royal Green Jackets, was pictured with blood on his hands and forehead. Authorities later confirmed the officer died.  

Ellwood’s response earned him praise from his fellow MPs.

Ellwood lost his brother Jonathan to a terrorist attack in Bali in 2002. He was one of the 202 people, including 27 Britons, who were killed in the blast.

U.K. Parliament to Resume Business Tomorrow

The U.K. Parliament confirmed that both houses will resume parliamentary business tomorrow following its suspension Wednesday afternoon amid the attack. Some 200 lawmakers were placed under lockdown in the chamber, though they were later evacuated to nearby Westminster Abbey.

How the Attack Unfolded

The alleged assailant drove a car over London’s Westminster Bridge, hitting and injuring several people, including three police officers, said Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commissioner for the Metropolitan Police. The car then crashed near Parliament; the alleged assailant, who was armed with a knife, then continued the attack, trying to enter Parliament before being shot by a police officer. Three people were killed, Rowley said, and at least 20 people were injured.

Police: Four, Including Attacker, Killed in London Attack

The Metropolitan Police at a news conference said four people were killed in today’s attack, including the alleged attacker. Of the 20 people were injured, three were police officers, Metropolitan Police said.

Watch it here:

French Students Among Those Injured, French Prime Minister Says

French students were among those injured in today’s attack, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed. The number of students is not yet known, though at least 10 people were treated for their injuries on Westminster Bridge.

“Solidarity with our terribly struck British friends, full support for wounded French students, their families, and their comrades,” the French premier tweeted.

Police Officer Killed in Westminster Attack

Update at 2:22 p.m.

Our original post at 1:53 p.m. :

An officer who was stabbed by the attacker outside Westminster Palace has died, according to news reports, which are citing unnamed sources. The identity of the officer is not yet known. If confirmed, it would be the second fatality today. One woman was also confirmed killed earlier.

It's Not the First Time a Vehicle Has Been Used in a Terrorist Attack

Writing last December in The Atlantic after an attacker drove a semi-trailer packed with steel through an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens more, my colleague Uri Friedman noted:

Terrorists have wielded vehicles as a weapon against civilians not just in Berlin and Nice, but at a chemical plant in France and on the campus of Ohio State University. The terrorism scholar Martha Crenshaw estimates that there have been 30 such incidents around the world since 1994, excluding attacks involving car or truck bombs (Palestinian terrorists have been deploying car-ramming against Israeli civilians for years). ISIS has lost lots of fighters and territory in Syria and Iraq, weakening its ability to stage sophisticated attacks. But its capacity to convey ideas online remains strong. Those ideas, plus a driver, a car, a crowd, and a claim of responsibility, are all that’s needed for the group to strike in the heart of Germany.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for today’s attack in London.

Lawmakers Evacuated, Lockdown Lifted as Some People Permitted to Leave Area

Members of Parliament who were inside the complex at the time of the attack have been evacuated to the nearby Westminster Abbey.

Those on the London Eye and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital will now be permitted to leave, authorities at both locations announced via Twitter.

Rescuers Pull a Woman From River Thames

Emergency responders tend to those injured after an incident on Westminster Bridge on March 22, 2017. (Hannah Mckay / Reuters)

The London Port Authority has pulled a seriously injured woman from the River Thames. Martin Garside, a Port Authority spokesman, told The Guardian the woman, who is believed to have fallen or jumped into the water from the Westminster Bridge, was “brought ashore and is undergoing urgent medical treatment.” He added the river has now been shut down on either side of the Westminster Palace, between Vauxhall Bridge and the Embankment.

At Least 10 People Treated, Ambulance Service Says

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) says at least 10 people were treated for their injuries on Westminster Bridge following this morning’s attack. Here’s the full statement from Pauline Cranmer, the LAS’s deputy director of operations:

We can confirm we have treated at least 10 patients on Westminster Bridge and have put a number of hospitals on alert as we continue to respond to this incident.

We were called at 2.40pm today, with the first ambulance crew arriving within six minutes.

We have sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, London’s Air Ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team.

We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to ensure patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible.

We have declared a major incident and our priority is to assess patients and ensure that they are treated and taken to hospital as soon as possible.

As we are very busy dealing with this incident, we would ask the public to only call us in a genuine emergency.

At least one person is dead following the incident.

More Eyewitness Accounts

Several people have been confined to the Westminster area due to security concerns. Guests at the London Eye, located across the River Thames from Westminster Palace, have been temporarily held at the attraction. Here’s one image from a person on the giant ferris wheel:

Meanwhile, an estimated 200 lawmakers are being held inside the U.K. Parliament.

Staff and visitors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, located across the river from Westminster Palace, are also under lockdown; hospital authorities requested people “remain on site during the current security incident.”

Here's an account of what happened from Calum Kerr, the member of Parliament from the Scottish National Party:

Police Say Attack 'Has Been Declared a Terrorist Incident'

Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET

Here’s the full statement from BJ Harrington, the Metropolitan Police commander:

Our original post at 12:51 p.m.

Here’s the latest from the Metropolitan Police:

Attack Falls on the Anniversary of Brussels Bombings

The attack comes exactly one year after the bombings at the Brussels airport and subway system that killed 32 people and wounded about 300 others. That attack was claimed by ISIS, and its perpetrators had belonged to a cell that carried out the Paris attacks in November 2015 that killed 130 people. No one has yet claimed responsibility for today’s attack in London.

As we wrote at the time of the Brussels attack:

The terrorist group’s strike at the heart of Europe—Brussels is both the Belgian capital and where the EU has its headquarters—showcases not only its ability to conceive, plan, and execute attacks outside the Middle East, but also highlights the intelligence failures that allowed ISIS to carry out attacks in two European cities four months and 200 miles apart.

There were warning signs—several of them—before the Brussels attacks: Belgium has long been known as Europe’s hub for Islamist radicals. More Belgians have joined ISIS as a proportion of the population than have people from any other Western country. Many of the Paris attackers were Belgian nationals or residents. One particular Brussels neighborhood, Molenbeek, has come under scrutiny from counterterrorism officials as well as the media as the epicenter of Belgian jihadism.

Another, Schaerbeek, where police raids in the aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks were carried out, will likely face similar scrutiny soon. Europol, the EU’s police agency, warned as far back as January that ISIS “special forces” had planned to target European cities in attacks like those on Mumbai, India, in 2008.

But in the aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks there appear to have been as many opportunities missed by Belgian intelligence agencies as there were chances to stop the carnage.

One Person Reported Killed in the Attack

A doctor at St. Thomas hospital where some of those attacked were taken told reporters that one woman was killed in the attack. That’s via the Press Association news agency.

A Map of the Area

Parliament Square is about a five-minute walk from Westminster Bridge. Here’s the area in question:

Roads Are Closed in the Area

Statement from London Ambulance Service

In a statement, Pauline Cranmer, the deputy director of the London Ambulance Service, said:

We were called at 2.40pm to Westminster Bridge to reports of an incident, with the first crew arriving within six minutes.

We have sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, London’s Air Ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team.

We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to ensure patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible.

We have declared a major incident and our priority is to assess patients and ensure that they are treated and taken to hospital as soon as possible.

As we are very busy dealing with this incident, we would ask the public to only call us in a genuine emergency.

Trump Briefed

President Trump arrived at a Women in Healthcare panel at 11:24 a.m. and apologized for being late, according to NBC’s Katy Tur.

“I was just getting an update on London,” Trump said. “Some big news having to do with London just happened.”

The Crash on Westminster Bridge

Toby Melville / Reuters

There are reports of an unconfirmed number of injuries after a vehicle reportedly struck several people on London’s Westminster Bridge in what appears to be a related attack to the one that occurred near Parliament Square. It’s not clear if the attacker was the same person.

Here's video from the scene:

Police Say Incident Being Treated as a 'Terrorist Incident Until We Know Otherwise'

Metropolitan Police say they are investigating the event as a “terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

No other details have been released, including the number of casualties and their fates, as well as the fate of the assailant, who was shot by police.

More on the Attack from David Lidington, Head of the House of Commons

David Lidington, the leader of the House of Commons, told members of Parliament:

Colleagues will have appreciated that events have been moving rapidly and I want to emphasize that the knowledge that I have which is definite is so far very limited. What I am able to say to the House is that there has been a serious incident within the estate. It seems that a police officer has been stabbed; that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An air ambulance is attending the scene to remove the casualties. There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity.

Police 'on Scene and Dealing With the Incident'

Here’s the latest update from Metropolitan Police in London:

Witness Accounts From the Scene

Here’s Tom Peck, a political reporter with the Independent newspaper.

Christopher Hope, the chief political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, tweeted:

About 200 Lawmakers Are Inside Parliament

The Press Association news agency reported that about 200 members of Parliament are inside the House of Commons, which is on lockdown. The BBC added staff inside Parliament were told to stay inside their offices. The Westminster Underground station was closed following the incident, Transport for London, which operates the subway system, said.

Alleged Attacker Reportedly Shot

David Lidington, the leader of the House of Commons, told members of Parliament, that a police officer was stabbed in the attack, adding the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police.” That comes from the U.K.’s Press Association news service.

Police Report a 'Firearms Incident' on Westminster Bridge

The Metropolitan Police tweeted that officers were called at approximately 2:40 p.m. local time (10:40 a.m. ET) to reports of an incident at Westminster Bridge. Police are on the scene, the department said, adding the report was “being treated as a firearms incident.”