The mysterious attack in Cheltenham, UK involved an American woman working for GCHQ, the Daily Mail reports
The woman injured in last week’s knife attack in Gloucestershire was an American intelligence operative seconded to British surveillance, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday. Last Thursday’s incident, initially described as attempted murder but then upgraded to terrorism, has led to rampant speculation in the UK as neither the victim nor the attacker were publicly named.
The attack happened in the parking lot outside a leisure center – a facility with a gym, swimming pools, cafe and other amenities, used by members and the public alike – around 9 pm local time. The facility is in Cheltenham, less than five kilometers away from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The GCHQ has declined requests for comment.
Within hours, police had arrested a 29-year-old man and charged him with attempted murder. On Friday, he was re-arrested under the Terrorism Act, and the investigation was handed over to Counter Terrorism Policing South East “due to some specific details of this incident,” according to the state broadcaster BBC.
According to local residents interviewed by the Daily Mail, the woman and her attacker were inside the car, arguing, before the stabbing.
“They were either parked or had pulled into the car park when she was stabbed and then she managed to get out of the car and get to the leisure center,” one witness said. “There were two ambulances and then the police arrested the bloke in the car.”
Police had closed down the leisure center and the parking lot, pending the investigation. “I would like to reassure those living locally or visiting the county that we believe this was an isolated incident and we are not aware of any wider threat to members of the public,” Richard Ocone, a spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary, said in a statement.
Cheltenham is a spa town of about 120,000 residents, located halfway between Birmingham and Bristol in southwest England. It is best known for the annual horse jump racing festival, happening this week. It is also home to the headquarters of Britain’s surveillance agency, which has been known to do spy work for the US as part of the “Five Eyes” network.