Methods In London Attack Similar To Earlier Cases

Mar 23, 2017
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's get up to date on that deadly attack in London yesterday. Scotland Yard has now identified the person believed to be responsible for this attack near Parliament. He is Khalid Masood. He's 52 years old and is said to be known by a number of aliases. He is not believed to be part of any current investigation. Four people died yesterday, including the attacker. ISIS has claimed responsibility for this, though that has not been confirmed. Meanwhile, there have been eight arrests made as part of this investigation, a lot to cover here. And let's talk it through with NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre. Greg, good morning.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: So what do we know about about this man? We've just been given his name.

MYRE: Well, he's been - had a criminal record dating back to the 1980s. But it was for garden-variety-type crimes. He was apparently investigated a few years back - possible links to extremism. But that didn't pan out, so he was considered a peripheral figure and was not on the radar at this moment. And that's what we've got so far.

GREENE: And the authorities in London have been saying all morning that he was inspired by international terrorism. Do we know anything beyond that at this point?

MYRE: Not a lot, but what that's suggesting is the kind of attacks we've seen recently, which are these sort of one-man attacks by a lone wolf kind of attacker who may have read something, the online propaganda of the Islamic State, and acted on his own. And then the Islamic State will claim responsibility or credit for this attack after the effect, even though they may not have any knowledge of it beforehand.

GREENE: And this is something we often see in these attacks, right? I mean, we get early indications of ISIS claiming responsibility. But we want to be very, very careful because we're not sure who is making that claim, who in that organization - if it's part of ISIS at all. And we really need to take some time there.

MYRE: That's true, David. In this case, it's a news agency that's been affiliated with the Islamic State. And this has been sort of the formula that we've seen before. And ultimately, we may never know. The attacker is dead. The Islamic State has said, carry out attacks; we will - we will embrace you afterwards. So we may not get much more than this. But you're right. There's not any sort of clear confirmation at this point.

GREENE: And a low-tech attack like this, carried out by one person - I mean, this is the kind of thing that ISIS has been - has been telling people to do in their messaging.

MYRE: Right. They've got an online magazine, Rumiyah. And it gives very explicit instructions about not only how to carry out a vehicle attack but what kind of truck to use. They suggest also taking a knife. You - I went back and looked at some of these instructions, and it was very similar to what happened yesterday and what's happened recently in Berlin, at the Christmas market attack in last July, in Nice, France, at the Bastille Day attack. So we've been seeing a series of these now.

GREENE: You know, we've had, you know, international terrorism - you know, experts on the program who were sort of predicting something like this, you know, if indeed this turns out to be ISIS - that as they lose ground in places like Syria and Iraq, they might turn even more frequently to lone-wolf attacks like this. You think that might be what we're seeing?

MYRE: Yeah, I don't want to try to predict everything here. But they're trying to remain relevant, trying to show that they can still carry out attacks, hit hard at the West, in particular. That's important to them. So yes, it does seem that as they lose ground at home, they are looking to also attack abroad.

GREENE: OK, Greg, thanks so much, as always.

MYRE: My pleasure, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.