British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday condemned the “evil ideology of Islamist extremism” that she said drove the three terror attacks in Britain since March and called for tougher measures to combat terrorism.
“They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism,” the British premier said in an address, a day after the central London car-ramming and stabbings by three terrorists that left seven people dead and 48 injured.
“It is an ideology that claims our Western values and freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam,” she said, adding that while the attacks are not directly connected, the “perpetrators are inspired to attack… by copying one another.”
Declaring that “enough is enough,” the prime minister called for increased domestic counterterrorism measures. “We cannot and must not pretend that things can remain the same.”
May said British security services were considering increasing mandatory jail sentences for terror-related offenses, even for less severe cases.
“We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face. Terrorism breeds terrorism,” May said.
May went on to call for international agreements to regulate cyberspace in an effort stop the spread of extremism and said Britain needs to become more robust at identifying and stamping it out.
“While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country,” May said.
Combating extremism “will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations,” the prime minister added.
May reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to defeating the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, and said that Britain’s security services have thwarted five credible terror plots since March.
The assault began Saturday night when a van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on busy London Bridge. Three men exited the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said. The attack unfolded quickly, and police said officers had shot and killed the three attackers within eight minutes.
Emergency officials said 48 people were treated at London hospitals and a number of others suffered less serious injuries. Seven people were killed.
Britain was already on edge after a suicide bombing two weeks ago at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, in northwest England, that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others. Grande and other stars are scheduled to perform a benefit concert for victims Sunday night.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Manchester bombing, but there has not yet been a claim of responsibility for the London attack.