SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
London Bridge was the site of another brutal attack yesterday - one authorities call an act of terrorism. Details are still unclear, but two people are dead and three more were injured. The assailant was disarmed by bystanders in the busy financial district where the attack took place. Latest now is Lucy Fisher, defence editor of The Times of London. Thanks so much for being with us, Lucy.
LUCY FISHER, BYLINE: Hi there.
SIMON: What have we learned about how this happened and the man who will be accused of doing it?
FISHER: Well, we've learnt today that the assailant was a 28 year old named by police as Usman Khan, and he was, in fact, a convicted terrorist - had performed Islamist offences, convicted in 2012, and had been released a year ago from prison on the proviso that he had agreed to wear an electronic tag, submit to curfews and restrictions to his movements. And it was while he was subject to these conditions that he performed this horrific attack yesterday.
SIMON: And what more is known about Khan and his history?
FISHER: Well, I think there's a lot of questions today about how he could have plotted this attack and carried it out. Obviously, a lot of work went into the creation of a hoax suicide belt and so forth. I think there will be questions about why the security services were not aware that he was planning this attack when, indeed, he was on their radar and should have been monitored.
SIMON: This incident occurs just ahead of a general election in the UK next week and a NATO summit in just a few days. How concerned are police and other officials about security for these major events?
FISHER: Well, as you say, I think that it will be seen as highly unfortunate that this has happened just before 29 leaders convene in Watford for the NATO leaders meeting next week. As for the general election, I think there will also be questions that play out from the frightening and tragic incident yesterday. Both the main parties - the Conservative and Labour Party that could end up in Downing Street - have questions to face. For the Conservatives, there'll be questions for the home secretary about why, only three weeks ago, she reduced the terror threat in the UK from severe to substantial, and there'll be questions too about cuts to police numbers and whether that has contributed to some of the surveillance issues that may be found to have taken place here. For the Labour Party, there are - their leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced a lot of scrutiny on his robustness on national security. And indeed this week, he was asked in an interview six times whether he would ever be prepared to give the order to kill a terrorist if that terrorist could not be safely apprehended, arrested, and put on trial. And six times, he refused to say that he would give that kill order. So I think, in the minds of voters, there are questions about how secure the nation would be in his hands if he became prime minister.
SIMON: And there was a knife attack just a few hours later in the Hague yesterday, three young people were injured. Any more word on that attack and whether authorities see any relation between the two events?
FISHER: There is no suggestion at the moment in the UK that the attacks are in any way linked but, of course, the fact that two occurred on the same day do raise a lot of questions about terror. Of course, in the UK, the peak of the terror threat was in 2017, when five major incidents occurred in which dozens of people were killed. So while I think yesterday's attack is incredibly tragic with two people killed and three more severely injured, I think we are far from seeing the raising to a fever pitch that we had two years ago in the United Kingdom.
SIMON: Lucy Fisher of The Times in London, thanks so much.
FISHER: Thank you.
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