London attacker identified as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, no prior intel on activities
British police have identified the person responsible for Thursday’s terror attack near the parliament as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, saying there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount the assault that killed three people.world Updated: Mar 23, 2017 21:59 IST
The attacker who killed three people near parliament in London before being shot dead was named on Thursday as British-born Khalid Masood, who was once investigated by MI5 intelligence officers over concerns about violent extremism.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency, but did not name Masood and gave no details. It was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the jihadist group.
Police said Masood, 52, was born in the county of Kent in southeast England and was most recently living in the West Midlands region of central England. He was known by a “number of aliases”.
“Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH (grievous bodily harm), possession of offensive weapons and public order offences” ranging from 1983 to 2003.
Prime Minister Theresa May earlier told parliament the attacker had once been investigated by the MI5 intelligence agency over concerns about violent extremism, but was a peripheral figure.
During five minutes of mayhem in the heart of London on Wednesday, Masood sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ploughing into pedestrians. He then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead.
Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into the attack, which May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology.
The Enterprise rental car company said the vehicle used in the attack had been rented from its Spring Hill branch in Birmingham, which is located in the West Midlands.
“An employee identified the vehicle after seeing the licence plate in an image online. We ran another check to verify, and immediately contacted the authorities,” said company spokesman John Davies.
About 40 people were injured in the attack, of whom 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition.
The attack took place on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels, and resembled Islamic State-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.
The dead were two members of the public, the stabbed policeman and Masood.
“My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence,” Queen Elizabeth said in a message.
US tourist Kurt Cochran was named as one of the dead in a Facebook post by family member Shantell Payne.
“With a heavy heart I must pass the sad news of our beautiful brother, father, husband, son and friend Kurt Cochran, he could not overcome the injuries he received in the London terror attacks,” Payne wrote.
Her post said Cochran’s wife, Melissa Payne Cochran, was in hospital with a broken leg and rib and a cut on her head but would recover.