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U.K. Ambassador On Attack Near Parliament


Great Britain's ambassador to the United States is on the line. Sir Kim Darroch joins us at the end of a week when an attacker crashed a truck into people as part of an assault near Britain's Parliament. Three people were killed. And then the attacker was killed. Ambassador, welcome to the program.

KIM DARROCH: Thank you very much for inviting me.

INSKEEP: Are you getting what you need from the United States?

DARROCH: Yes. Let me just start, if I may, by expressing my condolences for all of those killed and injured in the attack, and in particular, as I'm ambassador to the U.S., I should say how sad I am that an American citizen, Kurt Cochran, was involved. And my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Yes, the prime minister and the president - the president called the prime minister yesterday and expressed his concern and condolences and offered full cooperation. Our intelligence and security agencies work extremely close together. So yes, we will get all - we expect to get all the support that we need.

INSKEEP: So granting that we're still learning about this attack, authorities in your country have identified the attacker as a British citizen, a convert to Islam. The motive's not entirely clear. Help us define the threat here. What does this say about the nature of the primary threat, the primary terrorist threat that is faced by various countries?

DARROCH: I think there is a global threat from Islamist terrorism, from Islamist extremism. The individual, as you say, was British-born. We believe that he conducted the attack alone. But our police are investigating intensively to discover if he was assisted or supported or directed in any way. And as that - as that information is discovered, as that investigation is conducted, more news will follow.

But we have been at a security level of severe, the second-highest level, for a number of months now. And as the prime minister said in the House of Commons yesterday, we will need to remain vigilant. But London is a city that is resilient and that has faced attacks in the past. And life will continue.

INSKEEP: This attacker resembles, or seems to resemble, a number of attackers in recent years in the United States, where they seem to have acted alone. They may have pledged allegiance to ISIS or have some very, very loose connection to ISIS. But they're not really directed by the group. Is that the primary threat that you face as well?

DARROCH: Well, it's too early to draw conclusions about the exact nature of the attacker or what motivated him or, as I say, whether there was any support or direction network behind him. But you're right that at first sight, it looks like, as the prime minister again said yesterday, an attack that was inspired by Islamist extremism, Islamic extremist ideology. And that is consistent with other attacks around the world.

INSKEEP: Does your - forgive me. Does your government have the same view of the terrorist threat as the new administration here in Washington?

DARROCH: We collaborate extremely closely with this new administration in Washington. And there is - there is a common perception of the global threat, yes.

INSKEEP: But do you have the same approach, for example, to ISIS, to foreigners coming from abroad, that sort of thing?

DARROCH: Well, there will - there are bound to be some differences in the way that the different systems react to and respond to and take precautions against the threat that we all face. But basically, our approach is one of very close collaboration and of a great deal of intelligence-sharing and work together.

INSKEEP: Is Britain, like the United States, ready for a more intensive military effort in and around Syria?

DARROCH: We are working very closely with this administration on the threat - on events in Syria. We're the second-biggest contributor to the operation against Daesh. And we will work with the new administration in whatever direction they want to take. They want to take policy and action on Syria.

INSKEEP: OK, Ambassador Kim Darroch of Great Britain. Thanks very much.

DARROCH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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