(CNSNews.com) – British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a trip abroad and a government emergency security committee was meeting late Wednesday after two men allegedly hacked a soldier to death on a busy London street, invoking “almighty Allah” and justifying their act by saying Muslims were “dying every day.”
The two attackers, reportedly armed with knives and a gun, lingered after the attack, using jihadist rhetoric and – according to some eyewitnesses – inviting people to take photos and evidently waiting for police to arrive. When they did, the two were shot and wounded.
Before police arrived, video footage showed one of the attackers, holding a knife and a meat cleaver and with blood on his hands. He spoke directly to a camera operated by an unidentified person. Footage was obtained by ITV and The Sun.
“By Allah, we swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” he said. “We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth.
“We – I apologize that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same,” the man continued. “You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.
“Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught on the street [gesturing towards the victim’s body] when we start busting our guns, do you think the politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children.
“So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we can, so you can all live in peace.”
The man did not identify “our lands,” but spoke English with a London accent. The term “we will never stop fighting you” is one commonly used by jihadists. (A poem circulated after the 9/11 attack, sometimes attributed to Osama bin Laden, ended with the line, “We will never stop attacking you until you pull out of our homes.”)
Cameron condemned the “absolutely sickening” killing, which occurred near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London.
Speaking from Paris before returning to London to host a meeting of the emergency co-ordination group known as Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefing Room), he said there were “strong indications that it was a terrorist incident.”
“We have suffered these attacks before, we have always beaten them back,” he said. “We will not be cowed, we will never buckle.”
The decision to convene Cobra and for Cameron to return to London was an indication of how seriously the government is taking the incident.
The Home Office said in a statement the aim of the Cobra meeting was “to provide effective decision-making and rapid coordination of the central government response to the incident, and draw on the resources of other government departments, including the security and intelligence agencies, the police and other relevant organizations.”
Commander Simon Letchford of the London Metropolitan Police said the two suspects had been taken to separate hospitals and were receiving treatment for their injuries.
He sought to allay fears that further attacks may be imminent.
“There will continue to be an increased police presence in this area, and the surrounding areas this evening,” Letchford said. “That presence will continue as long as is needed.”
Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the murder investigation was being led by the Counter Terrorism Command.
“We understand concern about the motivation and we will work tirelessly to uncover why this occurred and who was responsible. I understand people want answers, but I must stress we are in the early stages of investigations.”
“The United States condemns today’s attack in the Woolwich district of London,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement. “We stand with our U.K. allies in the face of such senseless violence. Our thoughts and condolence are with the family of the victim and the British people.”