Terror returned to Europe on Friday with a jihadist stabbing in London – on London Bridge – as well as a stabbing in Dutch capital The Hague, plunging the continent back into fear.
The events in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have revived the dreadful images of the attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market, the car that hit pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in 2017, the carnage in Stockholm in the same year, the truck ramming into the crowd of shopper in Berlin in 2016, and a similar attack Nice.
It is difficult to forget this kind of violence motivated by religious animosity, especially because innocent citizens die simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Two people died in London today and about ten were injured. The terrorist – who had ties to ISIS, had already been “convicted of terrorist offenses” but was able to move freely with an electronic bracelet – was killed.
“This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences,” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu confirmed at a media briefing. The attacker attended an event on Friday afternoon at Fishmongers’ Hall aimed at integrating him into society.
This is unbelievable. The Jihadi shot dead on #LondonBridge was not only a convicted terrorist who had been released on a tag but he was a guest of a Cambridge University sponsored conference in London today on “prisoner rehabilitation”. You just couldn’t make this stuff up! 😱 pic.twitter.com/40oO2JZHXY
— David Vance (@DVATW) November 29, 2019
The event was set up in 2014 by Cambridge University as a social justice project with the aim of “bringing together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions”.
In The Hague – for the moment – there were three wounded and the criminal is on the run. “All three victims of the stabbing at Grote Marktstraat are minors. We are in contact with their families,” the Hague police tweeted. But nothing has been disclosed about their identity and it is therefore not known how old they are.
A “man between 45 and 50 years with a slightly dark complexion” is being sought by Dutch authorities. Despite the description indicating a suspect of North African or Middle Eastern origin, Dutch national broadcaster NOS has claimed that “there is no indication of a terrorist motive,” citing its own sources.
“I am very shocked by the news that a stab incident took place tonight in which children have been the victims,” said deputy mayor Boudewijn Revis to RTL Nieuws. “On a night when a lot of people do some shopping in one of our busiest shopping streets, something so terrible happens.”
— Emma Grande (@EmmaGrnde) November 29, 2019
The stabbing caused a lot of panic among shoppers in The Hague. It was very busy in the center of city last night, partly due to the Black Friday shopping evening.
What exactly happened is not yet entirely clear. A well-informed source initially reported that it seemed that the victims had been chosen at random. According to the source, the situation was reminiscent of the stabbing on the terrace in The Hague in May 2018, in which Malek F. killed three people.
When asked on Saturday whether terrorism is being taken into account, a police spokesperson replied that “all scenarios are still open”.
A woman explained to Dutch daily De Telegraaf that there was great panic in the shopping street. “Nobody knew what was going on. At first it was said that there was a shot.” There were also reports of one person killed, but it could not be confirmed.
However, a knife was found on the scene, which local photographers have confirmed they saw.
— Redactie District8 (@RedactieD8) November 29, 2019
“We are continuing an extensive investigation into the stabbing incident. Due to the complexity and care, this takes time. We understand that there are many questions,” the police said later in the evening on Friday. “If you have witnessed the stabbing incident, you can report to the Jan Hendrikstraat police station.”
Emergency services had arrived in large numbers. The police came to the scene with heavily armed agents, several ambulances, and a police helicopter was dispatched and could be seen circling above the city centre.