Police probe background of Westminster killer

Police probe background of Westminster killer

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Detectives are exploring the past of the middle-aged murderer of many aliases who wrought carnage on Westminster, as arrests connected to the outrage were made across the UK. Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old with a string of convictions stretching back decades, was unmasked by police as the home-grown terrorist responsible for Wednesday’s attack.

Eight people remain in custody after properties across the UK were raided, while a picture built up of the lone-wolf killer’s apparently nomadic lifestyle. The death toll from his assault on the capital rose again on Thursday when a 75-year-old man became the fourth innocent victim to die.

The man, who has not been named, had his life support withdrawn at King’s College Hospital. Five people remain in a critical condition after Masood ploughed a car down Westminster Bridge and stormed the Parliamentary estate armed with two blades, fatally knifing Pc Keith Palmer.

The nation’s mourning will continue into Friday as candlelit vigils for the victims are scheduled in Birmingham and London.

Scotland Yard said Masood – who was shot dead by police – was born in Kent on Christmas Day in 1964.
Police said they did not believe Masood was his birth name but refused to comment on reports he was born Adrian Elms.

A spokesman said he was known by a number of different names and research into them was continuing.

After leaving Kent, it is thought he most recently spent time in the West Midlands, with a witness to an armed raid on a flat in Edgbaston saying: “The man from London lived here.” On the eve of his attack, The Sun said Masood spent the night at the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton. Hotel staff told the Press Association: “We have been instructed not to talk.”

According to reports, Masood had also spent periods living in London, Sussex and Luton. Scotland Yard said he was not the subject of any current investigations before the massacre and there was “no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack”.

But he was known to police and MI5 and had convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. His victims on Westminster Bridge included a US tourist from Utah who was celebrating his wedding anniversary and a “highly regarded and loved” member of college staff.

Kurt Cochran and his wife Melissa, on the last day of a trip celebrating their 25th anniversary, were visiting her parents, who are serving as Mormon missionaries in London. Mrs Cochran was badly injured.

Aysha Frade, who worked in administration at independent sixth-form school DLD College London, in Westminster, is understood to have been 43 and married with two daughters.

Up to 40 other people were injured in the attack, with casualties including Britons, French children, Romanians, South Koreans, Greeks, and people from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and the United States. Three police officers were also hurt, two of them seriously. Police arrested three women and five men on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts after raids in London and Birmingham.

A house in Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales, was also searched, Dyfed-Powys Police said.
A minute’s silence was held nationwide on Thursday and crowds later gathered in Trafalgar Square for a candlelit vigil.

Theresa May said Masood was investigated some years ago in relation to concerns about violent extremism but was a “peripheral figure”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd defended the security and intelligence agencies, saying: “The fact that he was known to them doesn’t mean that somebody has 24-hour cover.”

She disclosed Masood had spent time in jail, but said it was not for terrorist-related offences.
As police and intelligence agencies mounted a massive investigation to piece together the killer’s movements in the lead-up to the attack.

The Islamic State terror group claimed in a statement that the attacker was “a soldier of the Islamic State executing the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations”.

Commentators pointed out the group had a record of opportunistically claiming attacks and it was significant the statement did not appear to claim it had directed the strike.

Carriage Gates, where Pc Palmer and Masood died, was back in use on Thursday evening, although armed police were at the entrance.

Roads around the Palace of Westminster, including Parliament Square, also reopened.

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