British soldier beheaded in Islamist machete attack

CNN reports on a brazen terrorist attack in the streets of London, the motives for which appear to be painfully clear:

A man thought to be a serving British soldier was killed by two armed men in a frenzied attack on a London street Wednesday, in what the government is treating as a suspected act of terrorism.

Witnesses told of a gruesome scene in which the man was hit by a car, then hacked with cleavers and his body dumped in the middle of the road in Woolwich, southeast London.

The two suspects in the killing were injured in a confrontation with police and have been taken to two hospitals, where they are being treated.

CNN affiliate ITN aired a video showing a man with bloody hands and holding a meat cleaver, who says, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”

The man, who is black and appears to have a London accent, carries on: “The only reasons we killed this man this is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth.

“We apologize that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”

The victim was reportedly returning to his barracks after attending to duties in central London.  Eyewitnesses have described him as a “young army cadet.”  He may have been targeted because of his “Help for Heroes” T-shirt, which advertised a British charity for military veterans.  Princes William and Harry, military veterans and longtime supporters of the charity, just participated in the grand opening of four Help for Heroes recovery centers yesterday.

According to the BBC, both attackers are still alive after being shot by police, with one of them in serious condition.  The UK Daily Mail says they are “thought to have waited around for 20 minutes until Metropolitan Police officers arrived, and then tried to attack them – but were swiftly shot by armed policemen, including a woman.”

The Daily Mail adds a few more comments from the machete terrorist that haven’t made most other media accounts: “You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns, you think politicians are going to die?  No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children.  So get rid of them.  Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.”

The Beeb has a horrifying account of the attack from an eyewitness named “James”:

“These two guys were crazed. They were just animals. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there,” he told LBC radio.

He said after the “horrendous” attack, the two men, who were also in their 20s, stood around, waving knives and a gun, and asked people to take pictures of them “as if they wanted to be on TV or something”.

“They were oblivious to anything, they were more worried about having their photo taken, running up and down the road,” he said.

Other sources told the BBC that “the people carrying out the attack were heard to say, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is great].'”

The UK Telegraph offers another eyewitness account:

Fred Oyat, who saw the incident from the window of his flat, tellsJosie Ensor that two black or Middle Eastern men were wondering around the street, walking over the dead body on the floor:

“The two men were shouting,” he says. “They had three knives including a machete and a meat cleaver as well as an old gun.

“The white man was already dead on the floor, his fade covered in blood. He had a big neck wound and his neck was almost off.”

“They seemed to be encouraging people to take photos and waited there until police arrived as if they wanted a fight.

“There was blood running down the streets. I still can’t stop shaking.”

In addition to the machetes used in the attack – which some reports are describing as a “beheading” – knives and a firearm were also recovered from the scene.  It’s unclear whether all of the gunshots reported during the incident were fired by police.

The British government held an emergency meeting in the wake of the attack.  Prime Minister David Cameron, who is in Paris today, called in “appalling murder” and an “absolutely sickening” attack.  Appearing beside him, French president Francois Hollande said, “We must fight terrorism everywhere.  It requires we share our intelligence, that our intelligence services work together and that we act everywhere we can.”  Cameron is returning home ahead of schedule in the wake of the attack.

The Telegraph relays a statement from the Muslim Council of Britain:

The Muslim Council of Britain have released a statement which said it understood the victim was a member of the Armed Forces, and calling for communities to come together.

The statement said: “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly.

“Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.

“We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s Armed Forces, proudly and with honour.

“This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder. This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom.

“We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.”

A late update at the Telegraph blog speaks of some previous violence in the area.  According to a local man, “The fight broke out in the pub and spilled out into the street.  I think it was between Somalians and Muslims.”

Here’s some video from British news that includes the bloody-handed attacker ranting into the camera, as described in the CNN report: