5 terrorist attacks that shook London
While London has been a frequent target of terrorist attacks in the past, most notably by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) from the 1970s to the late 1990s, the threat of IRA attacks has died down since the turn of the century and the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Londoners are now increasingly threatened by Islamic extremists who have carried out at least three attacks in the capital since 2005.
1. Westminster attack: March 22, 2017
An attacker used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians before stabbing a police officer to death outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, in what is being described as a major terror incident. Four people were killed, including the alleged attacker who was shot by armed police at Westminster. The victims included a police officer stabbed in the grounds of the House of Commons who died despite the efforts of doctors and an MP who tried to save him.
The three other victims were all reportedly struck by a 4x4 vehicle that plowed into people walking on nearby Westminster Bridge. Police said they consider “Islamic terrorism” as the motive for the attack. The name of the attacker was not immediately disclosed.
2. Leytonstone tube stabbing: December 5, 2015
Three people were injured, one seriously, when a knifeman slashed a person’s throat at London’s Leytonstone underground station while shouting, “This is for Syria!” before he was tasered and detained by police. The attack came just days after a majority of MPs in the UK parliament backed then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to launch air strikes on Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria.
In a video shot by a bystander, a man can be heard chastising the detained suspect, repeatedly telling the attacker: “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.”
3. Lee Rigby murder: May 22, 2013
Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered in the London suburb of Woolwich near the Royal Artillery Barracks by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who first ran him down with a car and then hacked the soldier to death with knives and meat cleavers, almost decapitating him.
A female passerby confronted Adebolajo before police arrived, filming the conversation on her mobile phone. Speaking with bloodstained hands, Adebolajo claimed the soldier’s killing was justifiable revenge, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” for British atrocities abroad. The pair were then shot by police and arrested, before being sentenced to life imprisonment.
4. 7/7 bombings: July 7, 2005
The deadliest terrorist attack in London took place in 2005, when three bombs went off on the London underground and another on a double-decker bus, killing a total of 52 people. This was the first and, so far, only Islamist suicide bombing in London. The bombs hit the Piccadilly and Circle lines, as well as Tavistock Square, not far from King’s Cross Station and University College London.
5. Ealing bombing: August 3, 2001
Seven people were injured after a car bomb exploded just after midnight in Ealing Broadway, west London. This was the last known attack carried out in the capital by the “Real IRA,” a rogue faction of the Provisional IRA who did not accept the terms of the 1998 peace agreement. Four men were arrested and later sentenced in connection with the blast.