LON­DON TER­ROR AT­TACK AL­TERS DE­BATE

Bri­tish elec­tion’s fo­cus shifts to se­cu­rity con­cerns. Au­thor­i­ties name two as­sailants.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Erik Kirschbaum and Laura King

LON­DON — Three days be­fore a Bri­tish gen­eral elec­tion in which se­cu­rity con­cerns have surged to the fore, Scot­land Yard ac­knowl­edged Mon­day that the ex­trem­ist Is­lamist views of one of three slain at­tack­ers who car­ried out a week­end ter­ror­ist strike had been known to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

On the first week­day after the ram­ming-and-stab­bing at­tack on and near Lon­don Bridge that killed seven peo­ple and in­jured dozens more, Lon­don­ers and vis­i­tors held a mo­ment of si­lence amid a solemn vigil on the banks of the Thames — but they also re­sumed their worka­day rou­tines.

Com­muters streamed on foot past po­lice bar­ri­cades and heaps of me­mo­rial bou­quets. The bridge re­opened, though some streets near the at­tack scene re­mained closed off.

Po­lice for the first time pub­licly iden­ti­fied two of the three dead at­tack­ers — Pak­istani-born Khu­ram Shazad Butt, 27, and Rachid Re­douane, 30, who had said he was of Moroc­can and Libyan de­scent. News out­lets scram­bled to learn more about them, re­dou­bling ques­tions about the plot­ting that pre­ceded the at­tack, and whether it should have come to au­thor­i­ties’ at­ten­tion.

With an in­creas­ingly hard-fought gen­eral elec­tion set Thurs­day, fall­out from Satur­day’s at­tack took on ever-grow­ing po­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s Con­ser­va­tive Party

was still fa­vored to win the largest share of seats in Par­lia­ment, but a poll pub­lished Mon­day by the or­ga­ni­za­tion YouGov sug­gested her party would fall 21 seats short of a 326-seat ma­jor­ity, while the ri­val La­bor Party stood to in­crease its share.

For the last month, May has at­tempted to cast as the elec­tion’s cen­ter­piece the terms of Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union and her abil­ity to pro­vide sta­ble lead­er­ship dur­ing fraught ne­go­ti­a­tions with the EU. In­stead, she found her­self forced to de­fend hav­ing presided over the cuts of thou­sands of po­lice jobs dur­ing her six-year ten­ure as home sec­re­tary, the top se­cu­rity job.

Her chief ri­val, Jeremy Cor­byn, said the prime min­is­ter should re­sign over the po­lice cut­backs — a po­si­tion he walked back some­what by urg­ing vot­ers to let Thurs­day’s vote be a ref­er­en­dum on that.

May, for her part, pointed to beefed-up se­cu­rity al­ready in place, with more mea­sures to come. “This was an at­tack on Lon­don and the United King­dom, but it was also an at­tack on the free world,” she said Mon­day.

Max Abrahms, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at North­east­ern Univer­sity who has stud­ied the im­pact of ter­ror­ist at­tacks on elec­tions, said both Con­ser­va­tive and La­bor lead­ers “are try­ing very hard to seem tough on ter­ror­ists,” adding: “There’s no ques­tion the at­tack in Lon­don will af­fect the elec­tion.”

Both can­di­dates have also had to deal with an­other un­ex­pected fac­tor: Pres­i­dent Trump. On Sun­day and Mon­day, the pres­i­dent sharply crit­i­cized Lon­don’s Mus­lim mayor, Sadiq Khan, with whom he pre­vi­ously feuded.

Cor­byn de­nounced the pres­i­den­tial tweets; May de­fended Khan but re­frained from di­rectly crit­i­ciz­ing Trump, who is highly un­pop­u­lar in Bri­tain.

After the at­tack, Khan had told Lon­don­ers that they would be see­ing more po­lice on the streets in re­sponse to the height­ened ter­ror­ist threat, but that there was “no rea­son to be alarmed” by this dis­play of armed vig­i­lance.

“We are the safest global city in the world,” he added.

Trump jumped on Khan’s re­as­sur­ances, tweet­ing Sun­day: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in ter­ror at­tack and Mayor of Lon­don says there is ‘no rea­son to be alarmed!’ ”

Trump fol­lowed up with an­other tweet Mon­day, lash­ing out at re­ports that his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Khan’s ear­lier state­ment had been mis­lead­ing.

“Pa­thetic ex­cuse by Lon­don Mayor Sad­diq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no rea­son to be alarmed’ state­ment,” the pres­i­dent wrote, adding that the main­stream me­dia were “work­ing hard to sell it!”

At the White House, spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­fended Trump’s run­ning Twit­ter com­men­tary, telling re­porters: “I don’t see that the pres­i­dent is pick­ing a fight” with Khan. She also in­sisted that Trump’s orig­i­nal de­scrip­tion of Khan’s re­marks had not been a mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tion.

Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Lon­don Bridge as­sault, but there were no im­me­di­ate in­di­ca­tions that the group had ac­tu­ally played any role in di­rect­ing the as­sailants.

Au­thor­i­ties said home­grown “lone-wolf” ex­trem­ists of­ten drew on the ide­ol­ogy of groups like Is­lamic State with­out hav­ing any di­rect connection. Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Cres­sida Dick told re­porters that “the ma­jor­ity of the threat that we are fac­ing does not ap­pear to be di­rected from over­seas.”

But there was a grow­ing pub­lic per­cep­tion that with this at­tack, as with pre­vi­ous strikes, dan­ger signs might have gone un­heeded. The per­pe­tra­tors of a May 22 sui­cide bomb­ing at a Manch­ester pop con­cert and a sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle-and-knife at­tack on Lon­don’s West­min­ster Bridge two months ear­lier were both on the radar of au­thor­i­ties, but not re­garded as ac­tive threats.

“Khu­ram Shazad Butt was known to the po­lice and MI5,” said Scot­land Yard, re­fer­ring to the main Bri­tish do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ser­vice. “How­ever, there was no in­tel­li­gence to sug­gest that this at­tack was be­ing planned” so mon­i­tor­ing of him was “pri­or­i­tized ac­cord­ingly” — that is, was not re­garded as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

How­ever, Butt had drawn con­sid­er­able no­tice in his East Lon­don neigh­bor­hood of Bark­ing. Last year, he was fea­tured in a doc­u­men­tary that aired on Bri­tain’s Chan­nel 4, ti­tled “The Ji­hadis Next Door,” shown un­furl­ing a black flag with white Ara­bic-lan­guage let­ter­ing at a pub­lic park.

Re­douane, who also lived in Bark­ing, was not known to the au­thor­i­ties, the po­lice said, but ef­forts to pin­point as­so­ci­ates of all three at­tack­ers con­tin­ued. Eleven peo­ple who had been picked up in po­lice raids in Bark­ing a day ear­lier were re­leased Mon­day.

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion moved for­ward, more de­tails emerged about the vic­tims of the at­tack, in which the as­sailants used a rented van to ram pedes­tri­ans on the bridge, then jumped out with long knives and slashed bar and restau­rant pa­trons in an ad­join­ing nightlife district.

The sis­ter of a miss­ing 32year-old Bri­tish man named James McMul­lan told Sky News that po­lice in­formed family mem­bers that his bank card had been found on one of the bod­ies. Melissa McMul­lan said the family be­lieved it was him, although a coroner’s re­port was pend­ing.

A 30-year-old Cana­dian woman had been named as one of those killed, and French of­fi­cials said a French cit­i­zen was an­other of the fa­tal­i­ties.

As evening fell Mon­day, hun­dreds gath­ered on the banks of the Thames, not far from the scene of the as­sault, for a me­mo­rial vigil. A mo­ment of si­lence was punc­tu­ated by a dog’s sin­gle bark.

“Our city is filled with great sor­row and anger tonight, but also great re­solve and de­ter­mi­na­tion,” Khan told those as­sem­bled.

Lon­don­ers, even while mourn­ing, ex­pressed con­tin­u­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to avoid giv­ing in to the kind of fear the at­tack­ers had sought to sow. A pho­to­graph of a man care­fully bal­anc­ing his mug of beer as he walked among those flee­ing the at­tack Satur­day night went vi­ral on­line, in­spir­ing thou­sands of memes and be­com­ing for many a sym­bol of calm re­sis­tance in the face of ter­ror.

Daniel Leal-Oli­vas AFP/Getty Im­ages

PO­LICE FOREN­SIC of­fi­cers work at a res­i­den­tial prop­erty in East Lon­don fol­low­ing a raid that was part of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Satur­day night’s ter­ror­ist at­tack that left seven peo­ple dead and dozens in­jured.

Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice

PAK­ISTANI-born Khu­ram Shazad Butt was one of the three at­tack­ers.

Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice

RACHID Re­douane also took part in the Lon­don Bridge at­tack, po­lice say.

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