Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke Wednesday at a meeting of foreign ministers from the global coalition to defeat ISIS, urging the 68 nations in attendance to band together to “combat and decimate” the terrorist state.
While the conference took place in Washington, a man with known ties to Islamic extremism drove an SUV into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London, mowing down dozens of people before crashing into a gate outside the British parliament building. In the aftermath, four people lay dead and 40 more injured, including a police officer who was stabbed to death by the attacker after he fled his wrecked car. (RELATED: Eight People Arrested After London Attack)
Hours later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, a tweet from its affiliated news agency, Amaq, calling the perpetrator a “soldier” of the ultra-violent terrorist group. New York Time correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, an ISIS expert, said that it remained unclear if the still-unidentified attacker was acting on orders from ISIS, or merely inspired by its message.
The Westminster Bridge attack brings renewed urgency to the efforts of the coalition of nations to root out ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. In his speech at the foreign ministers meeting, Tillerson recounted many of the places that have suffered ISIS-inspired violence, including last year’s bombings in Brussels that killed 32 and wounded another 300.
“As we commemorate and mourn for the victims of ISIS’s hatred, let us also honor them with unwavering dedication to victory,” Tillerson said. “The great commonality among we who have gathered today is a commitment to bringing down a global force of evil, and I emphasize the word ‘commitment.'”
Former ISIS leader Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed by a U.S. airstike last year, had urged ISIS followers to attack the citizens of coalition nations since 2014. Since then, ISIS-inspired or -directed perpetrators have carried out several devastating attacks, such as the 2016 truck rampage in Nice, France that killed 86 people.
Callimachi says Wednesday’s incident in London was likely tied to ISIS, which does not often claim responsibility for terrorist acts it has not ordered or inspired.
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