London Attack: The Queen Expresses "Deepest Sympathy" as a Defiant May Says "We Are Not Afraid"

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Queen Elizabeth II

The Islamic State group said the attack outside the British Parliament in London was carried out by one of its "soldiers."

Queen Elizabeth II said her "thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy" are with those affected by Wednesday's attack in London.

The monarch said, "I know I speak for everyone in expressing my enduring thanks and admiration for the members of the Metropolitan Police Service and all who work so selflessly to help and protect others."

She also sent a message of apology to London's police force after plans for her to preside over the opening of the New Scotland Yard building were canceled following the attack.

The queen said in the statement Thursday that she looks forward "to visiting at a later date."

Pope Francis also sent prayers and solidarity to victims of the London attack. In a telegram of condolence, Francis said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the "tragedy" in central London on Wednesday. He said he was praying for "divine strength and peace" for the families of the injured and dead.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a somber but defiant statement, declared that "we are not afraid."

A Utah man visiting London with his wife for their 25th anniversary and a British woman who was a school administrator were killed by the SUV attack on Westminster Bridge, and at least 29 others were hospitalized, seven critically.

On Wednesday, a knife-wielding attacker driving the SUV mowed down pedestrians, killing the two on Westminster Bridge before breaching Parliament's grounds and fatally stabbing a police officer. The attacker was then shot dead by police.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday. The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said Thursday that the person who carried out the "attack in front of the British Parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State." It added that the person "carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition."

The attacker was born in Britain and once came under investigation for links to religious extremism, May said Thursday in a sweeping speech before the House of Commons. May said police believe the man acted alone and that there is no reason to believe "imminent further attacks" are planned.

British officials named the attacker as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old with criminal convictions who was living in the West Midlands, which includes the central city of Birmingham.

Police raided properties in London and Birmingham and made eight arrests.

May set an unyielding tone Thursday, saluting the heroism of police as well as the ordinary actions of everyone who went about their lives in the aftermath.

"As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth," she told the House of Commons. "It is in these actions — millions of acts of normality — that we find the best response to terrorism — a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in."

Parliament began its moment of silence at 9:33 a.m., honoring the shoulder number of the slain officer, Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police and a former soldier. Then Parliament, which was locked down after the attack, returned to business — a counter to those who had attacked British democracy.

In 1,000-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament's buildings, politicians, journalists and parliamentary staff lined up to sign a book of condolences for the victims. Among them was a uniformed policeman, who wrote: "Keith, my friend, will miss you."

IS has called on its supporters to carry out attacks against citizens of the U.S.-led coalition that has been targeting the group since 2014. IS, which has been responsible for numerous bloody attacks around the globe, also has previously claimed certain attacks in a show of opportunism. 

Meanwhile, Poland's prime minister suggested a link between the European Union's migration policies and terrorism — and used the London attack to make her point, even though the identity of the attacker had not been released.

Beata Szydlo spoke just hours before police announced the identity of the attacker, who was British-born. Szydlo said on TVN24: "I often hear in Europe, in the EU: Let's not link the migration policy with terrorism, but it's impossible not to link them." Poland's nationalist government is at odds with the EU on a number of issues including migration.

The world's largest body of Islamic nations and the Saudi king have condemned the attack in London, saying they reject such acts of terrorism. Yousef Bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, who heads the Saudi-headquartered organization, said acts of terrorism contradict the fundamentals of Islam. The OIC is comprised of 57 Muslim-majority countries from around the world.

Meanwhile, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, described the attack as "a terrible crime that is incompatible with all values and principles of humanity."

The Saudi Press Agency reported that Saudi Arabia's King Salman sent a cable of condolences to May in which he said the kingdom "strongly condemns this terrorist act." London is a popular destination for thousands of Saudi and Arab Gulf tourists.

On Wednesday night, the Trump administration released a statement saying President Donald Trump spoke with May to offer his condolences.

"President Donald J. Trump spoke today with Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom to offer his condolences on today’s terror attack in London and his praise for the effective response of security forces and first responders," the statement read. "He pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice."

Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter to offer his condolences on Thursday: "My heart goes out to the victims and their families in London. No act of terror can shake the strength and resilience of our British ally."

March 23, 12:20 a.m. ET: Updated with attacker's identity.

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