Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the stabbing attack on London Bridge. The claim comes even as the terror group’s propaganda is wiped off messaging apps.
The terror organization laid claim to the knife rampage on Saturday, according to SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks extremist groups’ online presence. While IS has been known to claim responsibility for ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks worldwide, SITE Director Rita Katz noted that the attack “bore IS-inspired hallmarks,” and suggested on Friday that the terror group’s claim may be delayed.
There is, however, no evidence to support the claim from what the UK police has so far shared with the public.
The claim was broadcast through the group’s Amaq News Agency, a propaganda outlet that disseminates its message through apps like Telegram. Just one week before the attack, Europol announced that it had successfully removed “a significant portion of key actors within the IS network” from the platform.
The coordinated effort saw the jihadi-linked accounts being removed from Telegram “at an impressive pace” in the days ahead of the London attack, Katz said. She added, however, that the group has already attempted to migrate to other, less popular messengers to try and dodge the police banhammer.
The 28-year-old London attacker, Usman Khan, stabbed five people near London Bridge on Friday, killing two. He was restrained by members of the public and shot dead by police officers. Khan – who wore a fake suicide vest during the rampage – had previously been jailed for a 2010 plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and set up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, but was released on parole last December.
According to various British media outlets, Khan had been seen around 2007 by former classmates preaching radical Islam on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent, under the black flag of IS. Though IS in its current form did not exist at the time, the group’s infamous ‘Black Standard’ has been flown by Islamic terror groups since the 1990s, including the Al-Qaeda affiliates linked to Khan’s 2010 terror plot.
“I had to do a double take when I saw him in town shouting and preaching about Allah – he had the black IS flags on a table,” a former classmate told The Mirror.