The Westminster attacker was identified as Khalid Masood, a Britain-born Muslim with a history of petty crimes who had previously been investigated by MI5 for ties to extremist organizations, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons.
May said the probe took place several years ago, and that the suspect was not “part of the current intelligence picture.”
“The police have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public,” she told MPs. “Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism.
“He was a peripheral figure and the case is historic…there was no prior intelligence of his intent or the plot.”
May added that the attacker was believed to be inspired by Islamist ideology.
The Telegraph reports that eight men were arrested overnight in raids in Birmingham and London. Police sources said that the police have stepped up a nationwide investigation into potential accomplices.
May said the atrocity was an “attack on free people everywhere.”
“Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: ‘We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism’,” she said.
She added that the terrorist had targeted a “place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free.”
Three people were killed in the attack – one policeman and two pedestrians.
Of the casualties admitted to hospital, twelve were British, three were French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks, and one citizen each from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy, and the United States.
May paid tribute to the “heroic efforts” of Tobias Ellwood, the Foreign Office minister who was at the scene and who tried to save the policeman’s life, and to the efforts of all the emergency services and parliamentary staff.
“Yesterday we saw the worst of humanity, but we will remember the best,” she added.
”The greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.
“It is in these actions — millions of acts of normality — that we find the best response to terrorism.
”A response that denies our enemies their victory. That refuses to let them win. That shows we will never give in.”