During a hearing at London's Central Criminal Court, Judge Maura McGowan said Salih Khater must serve a minimum of 15 years for the August 2018 attack that injured three people. "Even acting alone, you acted for a terrorist purpose," McGowan said. "All the evidence is consistent with that conclusion."
Khater, 30, was convicted in July of driving his car into people outside Parliament before colliding with a security barrier guarded by police. While, Khater was not convicted of a terrorist offense, the judge said his "undoubted intention was to kill as many people as possible and by doing so spread fear and terror."
McGowan called it "an attack on strangers and police officers at the seat of democracy in this country." The incident came a year after London was hit by several deadly vehicle attacks, including one outside Parliament.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan told jurors at Khater's trial that his attack was "premeditated and deliberate" She said Khater's reason for the attack was unclear, but that the choice of target indicated a "terrorist motive."
Khater, a British citizen originally from Sudan, claimed he drove to London to apply for a visa at the Sudanese embassy but "got lost" around Westminster and panicked. Defense lawyer Peter Carter told the court Khater was an "enigma" and had not explained his actions. He said there was no evidence Khater had links to terrorism.
London police said the sentence and judge's comments underscored their view that terrorism was the motive. "This was a man who used his car as a weapon to attempt to kill as many people as possible spreading fear and terror," said Richard Smith, the Metropolitan Police's counterterror chief. "It was our view that this attack was carried out with a terrorist purpose and the sentence confirms this."