Lon­don at­tacker ‘ap­peared friendly’

New Straits Times - - World -

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

Khalid Ma­sood

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