London attacker ‘appeared friendly’
LONDON: Khalid Masood, the 52year-old man behind this week’s terror attack on Parliament, had a history of violence and was once investigated by the security services for potential extremism.
Police said the rampage that left four people dead here was “Islamist-related”, and people who knew Masood in recent years described him as religious.
Known by “a number of aliases”, including his birth name Adrian Russell Ajao, he had a string of convictions — although none of them were terror-related.
Born on Christmas Day 1964 into a middle-class family in Kent, Masood had been living in Birming- ham, where armed po- lice have raided several properties since Wednesday’s attack.
He was brought up in Rye, although his mother and stepfather have since moved to west Wales, where they rear chickens and run a textile business, according to reports.
Former schoolmates told British newspaper the Daily Mail that he had been a popular student, who excelled academically and at sport, and that he was a “happy-go-lucky” character.
Masood lived in several places in southern and central England over the years, working for 12 years at a cleaning chemicals company in southern England, according to The Sun newspaper.
London’s Saudi Arabian embassy said on Friday he had worked in the country as an English teacher between 2005 and 2009.
“During his time in Saudi Arabia, Khalid Masood did not appear on the security services’ radar and did not have a criminal record in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the embassy said.
But Masood had a violent streak: between 1983 and 2003 he racked up convictions for grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences, according to police.
British media said he also went by the alias Adrian Elms — a name he used in 2000 when he was jailed for two years for slashing a man’s face in the Sussex village of Northiam, not far from where he grew up.
Prime Minister Theresa May said he was once investigated by British spy agency MI5 in relation to “concerns about violent extremism”, but was not part of the current “intelligence picture”.
The night before the attack, Masood stayed in a hotel in Brighton, where he told staff he was visiting friends.
He had rented a car that he later used to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge from a branch of Enterprise in Solihull in Birmingham, the company confirmed.
Sabeur Toumi, manager of the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton, told Sky News that police had shown him a photo to confirm Masood’s identity.
The attacker, who had also stayed the previous Friday, had been “very friendly, laughing and joking“, and discussed his family in Birmingham, he said.
“It is shocking because these days you don’t know who are the bad ones and who are the good ones. He was just like any other guest who checked into the hotel.” AFP