London’s Bridge of Death: What we now know
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2017 — British Prime Minister Theresa May says the London attacker was British born and known to M15; the British intelligence agency had previously investigated the man. Khalid Masood, now linked to ISIS, managed to kill three persons, including Kurt Cochran, a Utah man who was in London to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.
The 54-year-old father is believed to have died after he fell almost 20 feet and landed on the ground beneath Westminster Bridge.
His wife, Melissa Cochran, was among the “catastrophically injured” in the attack. She is reportedly suffering from a broken leg and rib at this time.
The pair were due to return to the U.S. on Thursday.
The couple’s family said, “We express our gratitude to the emergency and medical personnel who have cared for them and ask for your prayers on behalf of Melissa and our family. Kurt will be greatly missed.”
Also killed was Keith Pamer, a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command and a police officer for the past 15 years.
Aysha Frade, 43, born in Britain but recently from Betanzos, Spain also died in the attack. Frade was on her way to pick up her children, aged eight and eleven when she was run down. Frade worked at the DLD College London, located close to Westminster Bridge.
A Korean woman was struck by the vehicle; pictures show her being tended by two men who rushed over to her as blood surrounded her. Prime Minister May said today that four South Koreans had been injured in the attack, which happened at 2:38 p.m. local time.
Masood, 52, used a gray Hyundai i40 SUV rental to run down pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge. People on the bridge were trapped.
One woman, Andreea Christea, aged 29 and on holiday with her fiance, chose to jump into the Thames, from which she was rescued but is still listed in critical condition after surgery.
The persons killed and injured were of a wide range in ages and national origin, from three high school students visiting from France to the middle aged. According to May, the injured included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks and one each from the US, Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, and Italy.
Travis Fran, a 19-year-old from Darwn, Lancashire was hit on the bridge, suffering multiple fractures to his hand and leg. He was visiting the area with thirteen other students. His classmate, Owen Lamber, 18, required treatment for a head wound.
Writing on Facebook, Fran reported:
“I’m not too bad, though things are obviously still in the air this early.
“After X-rays on over 20 different parts of the body, a couple of MRIs, an ultrasound and a CT scan, both my ribs and hip bones are fine.
“However, I have fractured the top part of my left hand, and most of the fingers.
“I’ve also fractured my leg, around the knee, and as a result, I will need physio over the coming months to be able to walk at the extent I used to.”
It was the most deadly attack in London since bomb explosions ripped through three subway trains and a double-decker bus in July, 2005, killing 37 and wounding 700. That bombing was attributed to an affiliate group of al Qaeda, the Secret Organization of al Qaeda in Europe.
May, speaking in Parliament today, said it was “an attack on free people everywhere.”
“A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free. And he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women, and children,” she said.
“This was an attack on free people everywhere—and on behalf of the British people, I would like to thank our friends and allies around the world who have made it clear that they stand with us at this time.”
After crashing his SUV into the railings outside the Houses of Parliament, the terrorist ran through the Carriage Gates where he attacked and killed PC Keith Palmer with a knife before he was killed in turn by other police. Palmer was tended to by Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative foreign office minister, and former soldier, but Palmer died at the scene.
“I am a witness, I was the last one on the scene before he died so I am not allowed to say anything. Number 10 has been in touch so I’ll get into trouble.
“It is now murder, I was on the scene and as soon as I realised what was going on I headed towards it. It is a huge tragedy, it really is.
“I tried to stem the flow of blood and give mouth to mouth while waiting for the medics to arrive but I think he had lost too much blood.
“He had multiple wounds, under the arm and in the back.”
Not a stranger to terrorism, Elwood lost his brother Jon in the Bali terror attack in October 2002, which killed 202 people, including 27 Britons.
Intelligence reports say that while Masood was known, there was no chatter, or intelligence, about his intentions to cause mayhem and murder in the name of Islamic terror. ISIS claims he was a soldier of the caliphate.
The day following this attack was the one-year anniversary of the Brussels, Belgium suicide bombing that killed 32 and wounded hundreds. Authorities say there is no clear evidence relating the attacks.
But when it comes to ISIS, there is rarely coincidence. Police have reported that more unarmed and armed police officers will be visible both in London and across the country. The UK’s threat level has been set at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely, for some time and this would not change, May said.
Angela Merkel, who recently visited President Trump, used Facebook to comment on the attacks:
“Even if the background of these actions is more precise awareness, I reiterate for Germany and its people: in the fight against any form of terrorism, we stand firmly and resolutely on the side of Great Britain.”
Last December, 12 people were killed in Germany, with dozens injured, following a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas street market. In July, a Tunisian in Nice, France plowed a cargo truck through a crowd waiting for celebratory fireworks, killing 86 persons.
In America, a Somali-born student used his car as a weapon at Ohio State, running into a crowd before jumping out with a butcher knife to attack several people.
The idea of lone wolves is going the way of MySpace. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says the label of a “lone wolf” is not always accurate.
Gartenstein-Ross says that even if the attacker has never been to a terrorist training camp or had trackable interactions with known terrorist groups, the ability to connect via social media and behind a wall of encryption means anyone, anywhere can communicate with ISIS operatives, get information and inspiration, without ever raising a flag with law enforcement.
Gartenstein-Ross previously spoke out about the timing of the Berlin attack, noting that ISIS seems to cluster attacks around holidays, probably because holidays bring larger numbers of people together.
Attacks scheduled for the New Year’s celebration were stopped.
In his article “The Coming Islamic Culture War“, Gartenstein-Ross wrote:
“Access to the Internet is now growing rapidly outside the West. In Muslim-majority countries, Internet penetration rates, which measure the percentage of a country’s population with Internet access, have long lagged behind those of the developed world—but this state of affairs is changing. In 2010, according to Internet World Stats, Internet penetration rates in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East were just 10.9 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively. In North America, by contrast, the rate stood at 77.4 percent. But by 2016 Internet penetration had risen to 28 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 57 percent in the Middle East. Indeed, some Muslim countries have been at the forefront of the global boom in Internet access—Saudi Arabia’s rate more than doubled from 2007 to 2016, and Tunisia’s rate over the same period went from 13 percent to just under 50 percent.”
Following the gunning down of killers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who murdered 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Californa, Dabiq magazine ran a two-page homage to the terrorists that they then circulated on Facebook, where Malik had pledged her loyalty to Islamic state leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Digital media and the internet have long been used to promote the atrocities of the group. Jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a known accomplice of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Iraq, is known as the Godfather of ISIS, uploaded videos of his brutality against the Western world, being an early adopter of using technology to spread his message of evil.
In 2006, he used social media to call for the Caliphate saying, “We hope to God that within three months from now the environment will be favorable for us to announce an Islamic emirate.” He also said a council aimed at keeping jihadists united would serve as “the starting point for establishing an Islamic state.”
Zarqawi would not live long; he was killed in an airstrike on his safe house by U.S. forces in on June 7, 2006.
Then President Bush applauded the strike as a victory, but warned, “We can expect the terrorists and insurgents to carry on without him.”
In the pantheon of terrorists bred in the U.K. who used social media to project their message, Jihadi John has a prominent place. Born in Kuwait as Mohammed Emwazi, he emigrated to the U.K. in 1994. Emwazi was first noticed by intelligence agencies when he traveled to Tanzania with two other persons living in Britain, Abu Talib and a German known only as Omar. Emwazi was not allowed to enter Tanzania as a police officer told the BBC, he appeared to be drunk and was acting in an abusive manner, “rough and noisy.”
As Jihadi John, Emwazi published videos of the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley (August 2014) and Steve Sotloff (September 2014), followed by the beheadings of British aid worker David Haines (September 2014) and Alan Henning (October 2014). In November 2014, Jihadi John killed a Syrian soldier in an internet televised mass beheading in which U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig, who had converted adopting the name Abdul-Rahman Kassig, was also murdered. In January 2015, he beheaded Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
Neil Farage on said on Hannity that Americans have to be aware that President Trump’s extreme vetting and immigration bans are actions being taken to protect Americans. In a free society, we cannot live peacefully when the enemy is living within, something we are seeing born out over and over again.
The lesson should have been well learned over the last six months of brutal attacks using wheels not bombs.
The reality is that if someone declares allegiance to any enemy of a country, that country should have the right to remove them, born to the manor or not, from its midst.
Does the number of persons aligned with Islamic Terrorism in Germany and the Scandanavian countries make Europe a preview of America in the days to come? If we don’t stop welcoming terrorists into the U.S., we might want to ask what steps Europe will take to erase terrorists preying on their people. If there are none that they can take, that will be a preview of our future, too.