Police on Thursday identified the man they say carried out Britain’s bloodiest attack in over a decade, in which three people died and nearly 30 others were injured at Westminster Palace.
London Metropolitan Police named the suspect as Khalid Masood, a British-born citizen who officials said lived in the West Midlands region of central Britain.
“He was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, … possession of offensive weapons and public order offences,” Scotland Yard said Thursday.
Investigators said Masood, 52, was shot dead by responding police at the gates of British Parliament Wednesday after he struck several people with his vehicle on nearby Westminster Bridge — an attack that has been claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
London attack: Man kills 3, injures 40 outside British Parliament
Authorities said Thursday that Masood was not the subject of any current terror probe, had no terror-related convictions and did not produce any intelligence classifying him as a significant terrorist risk.
British Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs earlier Thursday that he was known to British counter-intelligence agency MI5, saying he was previously investigated as part of an operation exploring violent extremism. However, May noted that he had been a “peripheral” figure, not part of the “current intelligence picture” — meaning he wasn’t on authorities’ immediate radar.
“It is ‘Islamist terrorism,’ it is a perversion of a great faith,” she told Parliament, adding that it’s “wrong to describe this as ‘Islamic’ terrorism.”
Masood killed three people before he was shot — two pedestrians on the bridge and a police officer at the Westminster gates. The victims are Police Constable Keith Palmer, 48, British citizen Aysha Frade, 43, and U.S. citizen Kurt Cochran, 54, of Utah. Twenty-nine people were injured — seven critically, including Cochran’s wife.
“A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement.
The Metropolitan Police Service said eight people were arrested in London and Birmingham in connection to the attack earlier Thursday.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks at the United Nations on Thursday to address a terrorist attack in London that killed three victims and injured 29 others outside Westminster Palace. Johnson said the attack on Britain is an “attack on the world.” Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said at the United Nations in New York City Thursday that the attack on London was an attack on the world.
“The world is united to defeat the people who launched this attack, and to defeat their bankrupt and odious ideology,” he said. “I say that with confidence, because our values are superior, our view of the world is better and more generous, and our will is stronger.”
“It is still our belief — which continues to be born out by our investigation — that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism,” Met Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said. “To be explicit — at this stage, we have no specific information about further threats to the public. … We must not allow terrorists to create discord, distrust and fear.”
Police said they will handle the event as a “terrorist incident” until they learn otherwise.
Authorities said Masood had prior convictions for violent offenses, including grievous bodily harm and assault, but was never convicted of terror crimes. His first criminal conviction occurred in 1983 for criminal damage and his most recent was in 2003 for possession of a knife, police said.
Wednesday’s was the deadliest attack in Britain since the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings in central London that killed 52 people and injured nearly 800.
By Doug G. Ware and Andrew V. Pestano