LONDON — The Metropolitan Police named the man behind the brutal attack on Westminster Bridge in the capital on Wednesday as Khalid Masood.
Masood, 52, was born in Kent and had previously been investigated by MI5 over concerns relating to violent extremism.
While authorities said they were not aware he was planning Wednesday’s attack, the police indicated in a statement that he had a string of previous convictions over a 20-year period from 1982 to 2003. The married father of three was never convicted of any terrorism offences.
The force appealed to the public for more information on Masood, who is believed to have worked as an English teacher and was a convert to Islam.
The Met Police declined to comment beyond its statement when contacted by Business Insider.
The police did not link Masood to a terrorist organisation. ISIS, the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attack, in which four people including the attacker were killed and at least 40 others were injured. ISIS did not name Masood in its statement released to Amaq, the news agency linked to the group.
Masood was not named for more than 24 hours as the police investigated the attack. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the police raided six addresses in London and Birmingham in connection to the investigation and made eight arrests.
PC Keith Palmer, a British police officer; Aysha Frade, a Spanish-born college worker; and Kurt Cochran, an American tourist, were killed in the attack, while seven of the injured remained in hospital in a critical condition on Thursday.
Record of convictions
In its statement, Met Police said Masood was born in Kent on Christmas Day, 1964. He was living in the West Midlands, police confirmed.
The Birmingham Mail said he recently lived at a Quayside address in Birmingham city. The newspaper also reported that he left a Winson Green property in December. Winson Green is an inner-city area in the west of the city of Birmingham and is near HM Prison Birmingham and City Hospital.
Masood was well known to police for a string of convictions between 1983 and 2003. These included grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons, and public-order offences.
His last conviction was for possession of a knife in 2003. Police said he has not been convicted for any terrorism offences.
In addition to his encounters with the police, Prime Minister Theresa May said he was investigated by MI5 “in relation to concerns about violent extremism.”
The Met Police added that Masood went by a number of names, with Sky News also identifying him as Khalid Choudary.
Bodybuilding English teacher
Other details about Masood’s life are beginning to emerge.
He was a married father of three, according to reports in the British press. The Westminster attacker worked as an English teacher, although it is not clear when this was given his convictions.
A source, who met him in a professional capacity, told Sky News Masood was “a big bloke, he looked like he was a bodybuilder, wouldn’t want to mess with him.”
A neighbour described him as a “quiet man.” She told the Birmingham Mail that she often saw him washing his car and mowing his lawn when he lived in Quayside.
The Hyundai 4X4 car he used to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge was rented from Enterprise in Birmingham, according to reports.
How the attack on Parliament unfolded
About 2:40pm GMT on Wednesday, an assailant drove a 4×4 car along Westminster Bridge — crowded with tourists — and hit many pedestrians.
The driver then crashed the vehicle into railings near the houses of Parliament before entering the grounds and fatally stabbing Palmer. The BBC and Sky reported that the man, now identified as Masood, was shot dead by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s security guard.
A plain-clothed officer was pictured standing over the attacker with his gun.
Masood was sprawled just metres away from Palmer.
The attacker was stripped and searched, presumably for explosives, before being loaded into an ambulance. He died from his gunshot wounds.
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