London police trying to determine suspect’s motive in terror incident

Posted at 4:25 AM, Aug 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 07:10:05-04

British police are trying to determine why a 29-year-old man crashed a car into security barriers outside the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament Tuesday morning in an attack that’s being investigated as a terrorist incident.

The suspect appears to have deliberately targeted one of London’s most iconic spot during rush hour Tuesday morning, hitting pedestrians and cyclists before smashing to a barrier, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said Tuesday.

Three people were injured — one was treated at the scene and the other has been discharged from the hospital. No one was killed. Parliament is currently in summer recess, meaning the normally bustling center of British government was more empty than usual.

The suspect was then arrested and is currently being detained at a south London police station, authorities said.

Not much is known about the 29-year-old detained in the crash, but Metropolitan Police said in a news release that he is a British national.

British Security Minister Ben Wallace revealed in an interview with the BBC that the suspect is a British citizen who moved from another country.

Roger Godsiff, a member of Parliament who represents Birmingham Hall Green, said on Twitter the suspect was believed to have been from his constituency.

“I have told the police and security services that they have my total support in doing whatever is necessary to protect the public in London and Birmingham,” he said.

The vehicle used in the attack left Birmingham late Monday night and arrived in London just after midnight Tuesday, authorities said. Detectives are searching two addresses in Birmingham and one with Nottingham.

No other arrests have been made.

Security increased

Security in the area has been increased since a pair of deadly attacks near the British capital’s iconic landmarks last year. The first took place in March 2017, when a 52-year-old British man rammed a rental car onto the sidewalk on Westminster Bridge, killing four. He also stabbed an unarmed police officer. Then in June, seven people were killed when a white van struck pedestrians on London Bridge.

Authorities are now trying to learn more about the suspect in Tuesday’s attack on Parliament House, though he is “not cooperating,” Basu said.

He was not believed to have been known to MI5 or counter-terrorism police, Basu said.

The driver was alone in the car and no weapons were recovered at the scene, an area popular with tourists visiting the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

Authorities do not believe there is any further danger to Londoners or the wider UK related to the crash, Basu said.

The attack

The attack took place shortly after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The man’s car collided with cyclists and pedestrians before crashing into the barrier. He was then detained at gunpoint.

“I heard some noise, and someone screamed. I turned around and I saw a silver car driving from the crossing — very fast and close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement,” witness Ewelina U. Ochab said.

There was a loud bang from the collision and a bit of smoke. The driver did not get out. The guards started screaming to people to move away. One elderly man rushed me to hide behind a monument, just in case.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May chaired an emergency COBRA meeting to discuss the incident Tuesday, which she called “shocking.”

“For the second time in as many years the home of our democracy, which is a potent symbol of our precious values of tolerance and freedom, has witnessed terrible scenes just yards from its door,” said May.

“The threat to the United Kingdom from terrorism remains severe. I would urge the public to remain vigilant — but also to come together and carry on as normal, just as they did after the sickening attacks in Manchester and London last year. The twisted aim of the extremists is to use violence and terror to divide us. They will never succeed,” May said.

US President Donald Trump also weighed in on Twitter.

“Another terrorist attack in London…These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!” Trump said.

Trump and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have sparred in the past over immigration policy. The US President drew the ire of a number British politicians last year for appearing to criticize Khan in the wake of the June terror attack in London.

When asked about Trump’s Tuesday tweet, Khan demurred.

“I think all of us are angry when it comes to these acts of terror being committed. The British Parliament, the Prime Minister Theresa May, works closely with me as the Mayor to make sure we do all that we can do,” Khan said in an interview with CNN.

“There is an issue about resources, and I continue to lobby the government to have more resources to keep our city safe, but all of us must do our best as politicians to make sure that police services, security services have the resources they need to be tough on terrorism but to be tough on the causes as well,” he said.