ISIL claims responsibility for deadly London attack
REUTERS photoThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility on March 23 for an attack the previous day by a man who plowed an SUV into pedestrians on a crowded London bridge before stabbing a police officer to death on the grounds of parliament.
The attacker was born in Britain and known to authorities who had once investigated him for links to religious extremism, British Prime Minister Theresa May said March 23 in a sweeping speech in which she also encouraged Britons to go about their lives.
ISIL said through its Aamaq News Agency that the attacker was a soldier of ISIL, who “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition” of countries fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
London police said the attacker was Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British citizen.
Britain is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
In addition to the police officer and the attacker, who was shot by police, two people died on Westminster Bridge and at least 30 others were injured, seven critically.
British officials did not release the attacker’s identity or confirm a link with ISIL, though May did say it would be wrong to describe the attack as “Islamic” extremism.
“It is Islamist terrorism,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “It is a perversion of a great faith.”
ISIL has been responsible for numerous bloody attacks around the globe and has specifically called for Western followers to carry out this kind of attack in their own countries, though the group has also claimed attacks later found to have no clear links to it.
May set an unyielding tone March 23 in a sweeping statement before the House of Commons. While she honored the police, she also saluted the actions of millions of people who went about their lives as normal, describing it as proof that the act of terror failed.
“As I speak millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth,” she told the House of Commons. “It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism, a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in.”
Parliament began its moment of silence at 9:33 a.m., honoring the shoulder number of the murdered officer, Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police and a former soldier. Parliament, which was locked down after the attack, then returned to normal business.
Leaders across the world condemned the attack, including top Turkish officials.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter of condolences to May.
“I want to emphasize that Turkey deeply feels and shares the United Kingdom’s sorrow. Turkey always stands in solidarity with the friendly and allied United Kingdom in the fight against terrorism, one of the greatest threats to international peace and security,” he said.
He later called May and conveyed his condolences.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also reacted to the incident, saying: “Associating terrorism with Muslim countries is a grave mistake. Terrorism is a global catastrophe.”
He added that all countries should unite on the issue of terrorism and fight it together, while also warning against double standards on the issue.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the incidents on his official Twitter account.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks in London that took place in the Westminster area where parliament is located. Turkey and the Turkish people, who have been subjected to similar attacks many times, share the sorrow of Britain and the British people,” he wrote.