ISIS have claimed responsibility for yesterday’s Westminster terror attack after it emerged the British-born jihadist was known to MI5 but considered ‘peripheral’.
It emerged today that the ‘lone wolf’ Muslim terrorist who murdered four and injured at least 29 was known to the police and security services, having been investigated some years ago over violent extremism.
But he was considered a ‘peripheral’ figure, who was ‘not part of the current intelligence picture’.
Giving details of the terrorist’s background in Parliament today, Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘His identity is known to the police and MI5 and, when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified.
‘What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that – some years ago – he was once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure.
‘The case is historic – he was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent – or of the plot. Intensive investigations continue.’
According to the SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist groups, an ISIS statement said: ‘The attacker yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State executing the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations.’
The details of his background will raise questions over what security officials knew about the terrorist and what decisions were taken when he first appeared on the radar.
May’s statement came after armed police arrested eight Muslims and raided six properties in London and Birmingham, where three Muslims were detained in a flat thought to have been lived in by the terrorist.
ISIS is currently being squeezed in its stronghold of Syria and has previously urged jihadists around the world to attack in their own countries rather than travel to join them. Fears have also been raised that fighters who went to join the terror group may now be fleeing back to the UK.
It is believed the Muslim terrorist was not on an MI5 list of 3,000 people thought to be capable of mounting an attack.
Further details about the terrorist came after dozens of officers wearing body armour ran into the address on Hagley Road, Birmingham late yesterday evening. A neighbour said he believes the flat is the home of the Westminster terrorist.
A local resident said he thinks two men lived in the flat and he had heard one of them speaking on the phone in what he described as an ‘Arabic or Pakistani’ accent.
The neighbour added: ‘It’s a cheap area [to live]. People come and go all the time.’
The road in Birmingham was closed from 11pm and reopened by 2am last night, with witnesses in the area saying three men were taken away in handcuffs.
Stuart Bailey, who lives four doors down, said: ‘There were a load of armed police in the street. They were all dressed in black and armed with what looked like MP5s (submachine guns) and one of them had six ammunition magazines strapped to his leg.
One of the flat’s windows was covered in cardboard, with non-uniformed officers spotted taking pieces of equipment into the property.
Landlord Farhad Makanvand said he didn’t know who had been staying at the flats above his curry house as it was rented out by a separate letting agents.