Homeland Security

'No Evidence' of Terrorism in Stabbing Spree, British Investigators Say

Flowers are left at the scene of a stabbing spree in Russell Square in London on Aug. 4 , 2016. (Rex Features via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — The State Department confirmed an American woman was stabbed to death in London on Wednesday night and one American was among the five injured in the Russell Square attack.

Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters there was “not a whole lot more” that the department had to share other than Secretary of State John Kerry passing along his “deepest condolences.”

“At this difficult moment the United States stands with our friends in Great Britain as the authorities seek the full facts as to exactly what happened, what the motive was, whether others may have been involved or not,” Kerry said today at a press conference with Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.

There was nothing yet from the White House; President Obama was attending a National Security Council meeting at the Pentagon on the progress of the war against ISIS and was scheduled to speak at a press conference later in the afternoon.

Toner said the U.S. “stands ready to provide all consular assistance.” There were no security messages issued to U.S. citizens by the U.S. Embassy in London.

London’s Metropolitan Police said today that “a 19-year-old man, a Norwegian national of Somali ancestry, was arrested in Bedford Place on suspicion of murder. He remains in custody at this time.” The Somali moved to Britain with his family in 2002.

“A female American national in her 60s was pronounced dead at the scene. We know the identity of the deceased and we await formal identification. Specially trained police liaison officers have been deployed to her family,” the police said in a news release.

“A male British national, who suffered a stab wound to his stomach, remains in hospital at this time. His condition is described as serious but stable.”

Four others wounded have been released from the hospital, including a male U.S. national who suffered a stab wound to the chest.

Two Australians were wounded as was an Israeli woman.

“Officers have searched an address in north London today and will search another in south London,” police added. “The number of officers out on the streets has been increased and that will continue for as long as needed.”

 

Asked if the U.S. had received information beyond that, Toner replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”

“Obviously, the investigation continues,” the State Department spokesman added.

The Israeli woman, Yuval Labkovsky, told Ynet news that she was returning to a hotel with her grandfather when she heard screams and two men running toward her. The first man stabbed her in the hand. The second man was chasing the attacker and caught him, she said.

“I saw a woman lying on the floor, covered in blood. Her husband supported her. Suddenly I realized I was also bleeding,” she said.
“I’m not afraid in Israel, so I have no reason to start being afraid in London.”

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters that they believe the attack was spurred by mental health issues and the victims were random.

“We’ve found no evidence of radicalization that would suggest the man in our custody is in anyway motivated by terrorism,” Rowley said, according to the Guardian.

The Daily Mail said the attacker is Zakaria Bulhan, described as a “quiet” guy who was bullied in school. Witnesses have described him as silent as he stabbed passers-by.

UPDATE 6 p.m. EST: The American killed has been identified as Darlene Horton of Florida.

“Darlene Horton’s life was viciously taken last night in London, and I join the Florida State University family and all Floridians in mourning her loss,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Her loved ones are in Jeanette’s and my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. This type of violence is becoming all too frequent here at home and abroad, which is why the safety and security of Americans must be our top priority.”