The firebombing of an immigration processing centre in Dover was motivated by an extreme right-wing terrorist ideology, police have said.
Andrew Leak, 66, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, is believed to have killed himself after throwing two or three “crude” incendiary devices at the Western Jet Foil site, in Kent, last Sunday.
Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) said on Saturday evidence has been recovered that indicates the attack “was motivated by a terrorist ideology”.
“A number of significant witnesses have been spoken to during the course of the investigation and a number of items of interest have been recovered, including digital media devices,” a statement said.
“Evidence from examining these items suggests there was an extreme right wing motivation behind the attack.”
Police said there is no evidence Leak was working with anyone else or there is any wider threat to the public.
Tim Jacques, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “This was clearly a very worrying incident and although nobody was seriously hurt, two people did sustain minor injuries.
“Increasingly in counter-terrorism casework, across all ideologies, we are seeing individuals who have mental health concerns and a hateful mind-set.
“Assessing when this crosses the terrorism threshold is a complex process and needs to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. These decisions need to be determined by the facts, as far as they can be established at any given time.
“After considering the evidence collected so far in this case, whilst there are strong indications that mental health was likely a factor, I am satisfied that the suspect’s actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology. This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident.”
The length of time it took for the police to label the attack as terrorism has sparked criticism.
Former Met Police chief superintendent Dal Babu told ITV News: “We do have a general problem here, where if you’re a brown person or a black person, you immediately think of terrorism if something happens. If it’s a white person, we suddenly think of mental health issues.”
Enver Soloman, CEO of Refugee Council told ITV News: "It's a serious concern, this means that this individual was clearly influenced by very dangerous ideas that he came across, and there's no reason why there won't be another person out there as we speak going through the same process.
"It's absolutely vital that the Home Office does everything that it can that all facilities holding people seeking asylum are safe and every step is taken to try and avoid another attack like this one happening."
Enver Soloman told ITV News that this development is a serious concern.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted: “Very serious that far right extremism drove this attack.
“I remain concerned that it took so long for counter terror police to take lead on this case – something I urged Home Secretary to pursue on Monday.
“There must be highest vigilance on potential terror or extremist attacks.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said the department was not planning to comment further on the attack after it was declared a terrorist incident.
Facebook posts on a now-deleted account under the name of an Andy Leak from High Wycombe contained anti-Muslim sentiments and complaints about people claiming benefits if they do not speak English.
One, shared on August 9, said: “The next time the job centre sanctions your money for not looking for enough work ask them about the thousands of people getting benefits cannot speak English and can not write English, how are they looking for work?
“Unemployment benefits clearly state you cannot claim benefits if not looking for work, all of these people should be excluded from benefits.
“You can clearly not look for work if you cannot read English or speak English, they are breaking the law, time to stand up.”
Two members of staff at the centre were left with minor injuries after police were called at 11.22am on Sunday morning.
Following the incident, 700 people were moved to Manston asylum processing centre near Ramsgate for safety reasons.
Police said the investigation is ongoing, including work being carried out on behalf of His Majesty’s Coroner.