President Donald Trump quickly took to Twitter early Friday morning to condemn what he called the “loser terrorist” behind the explosion on a London Underground subway train, doing so before British authorities had identified any suspect or suspects in the attack that left at least 18 people injured.
In a string of Twitter posts, Trump described the unidentified perpetrator or perpetrators behind the explosion in the Parsons Green area of the city as “sick and demented.” He also suggested that local authorities might have been aware of the threat, saying that the culprits “were in the sights of Scotland Yard,” referring to London’s Metropolitan Police. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster later walked back that claim on behalf of Trump, saying the President was “generally” referring to terrorism, according to CNN. Local police have said they are treating the London incident as a terrorist attack.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” Trump said. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”
Trump’s cryptic message led to some confusion on social media, with some wondering whether the President had inadvertently shared intelligence.
Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, British Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to rebuke President Trump’s comments. “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” she said, the Guardian reports.
Nick Timothy, May’s former chief of staff, described Trump’s tweet as “so unhelpful” whether it was “true or not.”
Trump also called for terrorists to be dealt with “in a much tougher manner.” He called the Internet their “main recruitment tool,” echoing May’s sentiments when she addressed the country following the London Bridge terror attack earlier this year. In that speech, May said that the country is experiencing a “new trend” in the terrorism threat, adding that there needed to be an international agreement to “regulate cyberspace” to prevent terrorists from having the “safe space” they need for their extremist ideology to breed.
And Trump also used the attack to defend his controversial travel ban and his administration’s record on fighting ISIS.
Trump has quickly taken to Twitter following most of the various terror attacks on British soil this year. Following the attack on Westminster Bridge and the British Parliament in March, Trump criticized the response of London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” Trump said then. And in the wake of the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people in May, Trump said he was “stand[ing] in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.”
The President also cited his travel ban following the London Bridge attacks in June. “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” he wrote, later adding: “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!”
After the Finsbury Park attack on June 19, in which a van was driven into pedestrians near a large Mosque, injuring at least eight people, Trump did not tweet, with many criticizing his silence on the issue.