NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Security remains tight at the British consulate, military recruiting stations and other locations around New York City after an apparent terror attack in London.
The NYPD said Wednesday that it was beefing up security in an “abundance of caution” and not based on information that the facilities were targeted.
“We move swiftly with world events to change our coverage accordingly as a precaution,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. “We’ll take precautions to make sure there’s not a follow on attack here or copycat interested in targeting military personnel or British subjects here in New York.”
Two men with butcher knives hacked another to death Wednesday near a London military barracks and one then went on video to explain the crime — shouting political statements, gesturing with bloodied hands and waving a meat cleaver.
“It shows you that terrorism can be effected with the most basic of tools or instruments, things that are readily available. You don’t need a level of high sophistication to create terror,” police commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday.
“Well, we always have our ear to the ground. We’d like to know more about the individuals’ motives, their backgrounds. We have a very close relationship with the Metropolitan Police. As you know, we have police officers assigned in London, so we’re getting information and we want to see, of course, if there’s any connectivity to New York,” the commissioner added.
Kelly said more NYPD officers have been assigned to the British consulate and U.S. armed forces recruiting facilities.
“We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” one of the suspects said. “I apologized that women had to witness this but in our land our women have to see the same.”
Calling it “an appalling murder,’ British Prime Minister David Cameron said there were “strong indications” it was an act of terrorism, and two other officials said there were signs the attack was motivated by radical Islam.
Police shot and wounded the unidentified assailants and took them into custody.
On Thursday, police confirmed the dead man was a serving soldier. British media said the victim was wearing a shirt in support of troops when he was killed.
The incident unfolded Wednesday afternoon when officers responded to reports of an assault just a few blocks from the Royal Artillery Barracks in the neighborhood of Woolwich.
Images from the scene showed a blue car that appeared to have been used in the attack, its hood crushed and rammed into
a signpost on a sidewalk that was smeared with blood. A number of weapons — including butchers’ knives, a machete and a meat cleaver — were strewn on the street.
Passers-by filmed what appeared to be one of the attackers, his hands covered in blood, as a body lay behind him.
Footage obtained by ITV news and The Sun newspaper showed a man in a dark jacket and knit cap walking toward a camera, clutching a meat cleaver and a knife. Speaking in English with a British accent, he apologized that women passers-by “have had to witness this” barbarity, saying that “in our land our women have to see the same.”
He gave no indication what that land was as he urged people to tell the government to “bring our troops back.” British troops are deployed in Afghanistan and recently supported the French-led intervention in Mali.
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” the man declared. “We must fight them as they fight us.” The camera then panned away to show a body lying on the ground.
In the midst of the chaos, a woman is now being hailed a hero.
Cub scout leader and former teacher Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, 48 jumped off a bus moments after the attack and tried to distract the suspects, telling them: “It is only you versus many people. You are going to lose.”
Saying she wanted to stop the suspect from attacking anyone else, she asked him if he “did it” and what he wanted.
“He said: ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan. They have nothing to do there,”’ she told the newspaper.
Her son posted a picture on Twitter of his mother calmly talking to one of the knife-wielding suspects.
Kennett spoke to the British news show “Daybreak” on Thursday.
“There were more and more mothers with children stopping around so it was even more and more important that I talk to him and that I ask him what he wanted,” she said.
Scotland Yard confirmed that counterterrorism officers were leading an investigation into the attack. Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the two men had been arrested and urged Londoners to remain calm. Both were hospitalized, one in serious condition.
Late Wednesday, riot police fanned out in Woolwich as about 50 men waving the flag of the far-right English Defense League gathered, singing nationalistic songs and shouting obscenities about the Quran.
Muslim religious groups and charities were quick to condemn the attack and urged police to calm tensions. The Muslim Council of Britain called it a “barbaric act that has no basis in Islam,” adding that “no cause justifies this murder.”
The barracks where the attack took place house a number of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards. They were the site of shooting events during the 2012 London Olympics.
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