British authorities raided six properties across the country on Thursday, detaining eight people
Addressing lawmakers in Parliament who only a day earlier had been under lockdown, May said Thursday morning that the attacker was “a peripheral figure” who had been examined by MI5, Britain’s domestic counterintelligence agency, but who had not been “part of the current intelligence picture.”
May said that officials were not ready to release the man’s name, but she added that “there was no prior evidence of his intent or of the plot” and that “our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology.”
Barely an hour after May finished speaking, the Islamic State issued a statement on the messaging app Telegram, declaring that the attacker was a “soldier” who “carried out the operation in response to appeals” to fight Western powers involved in military operations in the Middle East. The terrorist group did not provide further details.
British authorities raided six properties across the country on Thursday, detaining eight people in London and in Birmingham, in central England, as they pressed ahead with a fast-moving investigation.
Authorities emphasized that they believed the assailant had acted alone, and that they did not expect any further attacks; May said that the nation’s threat level would remain “severe,” meaning that an attack was likely, and would not be raised to “critical,” which is used to signal an imminent attack.
“Yesterday, an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy,” May said. “We are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.”
She added that the assault “an attack on free people everywhere.”
Consistent with the multicultural character of London, the victims of the attack — three dead and around 40 others wounded — included 12 Britons, at least four South Koreans, three French schoolchildren, two Greeks, two Romanians and one citizen each of China, Germany, Ireland and Italy.
Police also said that they had lowered the death toll in the attack on Wednesday to four from five, including the assailant. He drove his vehicle over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then fatally stabbed a police constable, Keith Palmer, 48, before being shot dead by police.