Prime Minister Theresa May says the man who launched Wednesday’s deadly attack at Westminster was born in Britain and known to the intelligence services.
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” she told MPs in her first House of Commons speech after the attack.
“He was a peripheral figure,” she added. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.”
She said there had been no prior intelligence of his intent nor of the plot.
The prime minister said it was still believed that the attacker acted alone and there was “no reason to believe” further attacks on the public were planned.
She added: “His identity is known to the police and MI5 and when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified.”
“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 they stand with us,” May said.
Police have arrested eight people in the investigation into the lone attacker who killed three people including a policeman and injured 40 before being shot dead as he tried to enter parliament.
Andrew Parker, director general of the MI5 domestic intelligence service, earlier said his agency’s operational response had been fully mobilised in support of the police.
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our police colleagues, grieving at their loss while also applauding the professional excellence of their response,” he said in a statement.
In concluding her statement, May said that by continuing with life as normal, Londoners and Britons were sending a message to the terrorists that they will not win.
She said: “The greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the every day actions of ordinary people. For beyond these walls today, in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country, millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives.
“The streets are as busy as ever, the offices full, the coffee shops and cafes bustling.
“As I speak, millions will be boarding planes and aeroplanes to travel to London and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth.
“It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism.
“… let this be the message from this House and this nation today. Our values will prevail.”