The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has issued a short statement claiming responsibility for the attacks in London yesterday. The message doesn’t identify the terrorists, but cites a “security source” as saying that a “unit of Islamic State fighters” carried out the assault.
It is the third attack the so-called caliphate has claimed in the UK since March, when a man drove his vehicle into pedestrians outside of the British Parliament and then assaulted people with a blade. The three terrorists who attacked London Bridge and the nearby Borough Market last night employed the same crude methods. The Islamic State has repeatedly called on followers to use both vehicles and knives.
The entire incident lasted just eight minutes from when the first distress call was placed to police to its conclusion. But the three males, who were shot and killed by armed police, managed to terrorize a large number of people during that time.
The Associated Press has cited an eye witness who claims to have seen some of the stabbings. “The three guys, yes, they were just stabbing this woman constantly, non-stop the three of them,” Gerard Vowls told the AP. “Just stabbing her from every direction, the three of them around her. Lunging at her,” Vowls said. “I heard them say one thing: ‘This is for Allah.'”
UK officials have not yet publicly identified the three terrorists responsible, as they’ve decided to withhold the information during the early hours of the investigation. A report by BBC News and The Telegraph cites a person claiming to know one of the three suspects. This same suspect reportedly listened to sermons by Ahmad Musa Jibril, an extremist preacher whose online lectures have been popular with jihadis. According to these same reports, authorities were previously alerted to this individual’s extremism.
Unlike after the Manchester bombing on May 22, there have not been a number of leaks in the US press.
“We would like to thank the media for their continued support, restraint and understanding in not speculating as to who the suspects are in this fast moving investigation,” Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement earlier today.
“I would like to assure them [the media] and the public that this is directly assisting the progression of the investigation and confirm we will release the identities of the three men directly responsible for the attacks yesterday, Saturday, 3 June, as soon as operationally possible,” Rowley added.
Authorities have arrested twelve people in Barking, east London, in connection with the investigation. One man was subsequently released without charge. It remains to be seen if any of the others are charged. Seven of the twelve people taken into custody are women, ranging in age from 19 to 60 years old. The five men range in age from 27 to 55.
For more on the attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Terrorists use van, blades to target civilians in London.