Saturday

2nd Mar 2024

May: London attacker was known to the police

The London attacker was "British born" and is known to the UK police and intelligence services. He has been investigated before for extremism, but has not been focused on by investigators lately, said British PM Theresa May on Thursday (23 March).

"He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic – he was not part of the current intelligence picture," May told MPs in the House of Commons.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

May described Wednesday's attack as "an attack on free people everywhere".

In a powerful statement, May said that the terrorist "tried to silence our democracy".

"But today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism," she told MPs.

Eight arrests have been made in London and Birmingham after the attack that left four dead.

Several people from other nationalities - three French teenagers, two Romanians, two Greeks, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, and one American - are amongst around 40 of the injured, as the attacker rammed into pedestrians with a car on Westminster Bridge.

"A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and culture gather to celebrate what it means to be free," May said, paying tribute to the police officer, who tried to stop the knife-wielding attacker at the parliament.

In an emotional parliamentary debate, MPs hailed their fellow lawmaker Tobias Ellwood as a hero. Ellwood gave first aid to the police officer on the scene, Keith Palmer, who later died of his injuries.

May said that the attacker acted alone, and was inspired by "Islamist ideology". She added that the intelligence services do not believe there is an imminent threat of further attacks.

The attacker has not yet been named by British authorities, since the investigation is still ongoing.

The news agency Amaq, used by the Islamic State for propaganda, has said in the meantime that the group claims responsibility for the attack.

Acts of normality

May said the millions of "acts of normality" are the best way to defeat terrorism.

"The greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people," May concluded, saying the streets are busy, the cafes are open, and millions continue to travel to London to see "the greatest city on Earth".

Police presence will be stepped up in London, nevertheless.

This terror attack, the worst in Britain since 2005, took place exactly a year after the deadly terrorist bombings in Brussels.

An EU Commission spokesperson expressed sympathy and solidarity with UK.

He added that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will have a phone conversation with Theresa May on Thursday.

In preparations for the Rome summit on Saturday, Italy's interior minister, Marco Minniti, ordered an increase of security, raising the country's security alert to the highest level.

An extra 2,000 police officers will be deployed on the streets of the eternal city, Rome, in addition to the 3,000 already planned.

In Rome, 27 EU national leaders are will arrive – with the exception of May – alongside the heads of the EU institutions to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

Terror attack shuts down UK parliament

[Updated] Westminster, and its surrounding areas, has been sealed off after a car drove into several people and one policeman was stabbed. At least three people have been killed.

EU vows to mend terrorist data share failures

The EU is rolling out plans to improve a large police database in an effort to avoid repeats of allowing terrorists, like Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam, from slipping by police due to poor data quality.

Analysis

More hype than substance in EU counter-terror plans

The 22 March anniversary of the Brussels bombing will trigger a lot of soul searching. But EU counter-terrorism strategies over the past 10 years have been crisis-driven with little follow through or oversight.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

Latest News

  1. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  2. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  3. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  4. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  5. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  6. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  7. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  8. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us