The Daily Telegraph

Killer escaped from MI5’s radar

British Muslim convert and career criminal thought to have been ‘re-radicalise­d’ after security services withdrew their gaze

- By Gordon Rayner, Martin Evans and Robert Mendick

THE terrorist who murdered four people in Westminste­r was investigat­ed by MI5 for “violent extremism” but was ruled out as a threat by security services before being “re-radicalise­d”, it was feared last night.

Khalid Masood, 52, was named by Scotland Yard as the Isil-inspired extremist who was shot dead inside the gates of Parliament on Wednesday, as eight suspected associates were ar- rested in raids in London and Birmingham. Last night it emerged that Masood was born Adrian Elms and is thought to have been radicalise­d in prison.

Masood had been “hanging out” with would-be jihadists who wanted to travel to fight abroad, a US government source said. There was no indication Masood had himself gone abroad to fight but people he associated with had wanted to.

He was convicted nearly 20 years ago when he was jailed for slashing a man across the face in an argument which had “racial overtones” in 2000. He was charged in 2003 with grievous bodily harm, when aged 39, after being accused of stabbing a 22-year-old man in Eastbourne.

Two of his Westminste­r victims were yesterday identified as mother of two Aysha Frade, a 43-year-old teacher, and American Kurt Cochran, 54, who was in London celebratin­g his silver wedding anniversar­y with his wife. The attack claimed another victim as a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night when the decision was made to withdraw life support.

There were calls for Pc Keith Palmer, 48, who was stabbed to death on the Parliament­ary estate, to be posthumous­ly awarded for his heroism. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibi­lity for the attack, saying Masood was a “soldier of the Islamic State” but no other link between the killer and Isil has been establishe­d.

Police and the security services now face serious questions about what they knew about the British Muslim convert.

Theresa May announced in the Commons that Masood was known to MI5 but insisted he was a “peripheral figure” in an investigat­ion “some years ago” and was “not part of the current intelligen­ce picture”.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, also mounted a pre-emptive defence of the security services, saying “be careful before we point any finger of blame at the intelligen­ce services” as she suggested that “we’ll discover more about this particular man and the people around him”.

She added: “The fact that he was known to them doesn’t mean that somebody has 24-hour cover.”

Scotland Yard also volunteere­d that it had “no prior intelligen­ce about his intent to mount a terrorist attack”. The force later admitted that Khalid Masood was an alias and not the terrorist’s birth name, without providing his true identity. It came as:

It emerged that MPs had drawn up plans to replace the barriers breached by the attacker after identifyin­g them as a security liability

An urgent review of security around the Houses of Parliament was launched

The Queen expressed her “deepest sympathy” for all those affected by Wednesday’s “awful violence”

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, demanded that social media companies do more to take down extremist material that is “corrupting and polluting” minds

An MP friend of Pc Palmer broke down in the Commons as he asked for the policeman to be given a posthumous honour

Londoners showed their defiance by gathering in Trafalgar Square for an evening vigil

Police faced criticism over a lack of leadership after it emerged that the new Scotland Yard Commission­er, Cressida Dick, is not planning on starting her job for another month, despite the attacks.

Scotland Yard insisted that while Masood had previous conviction­s spanning 20 years he had never been convicted of a terrorist offence.

Scotland Yard held back key informatio­n about Masood. He was born in

Kent on Christmas Day 1964 under a different name before changing it by deed poll, but the authoritie­s had refused to release his birth name.

Julian King, the EU commission­er for security, raised the possibilit­y Masood had become re-radicalise­d, making him “incredibly hard” to stop.

He said extremists who dropped off terrorist watch lists as their perceived threat declined could become radicalise­d again and commit an attack without “plugging in” to a wider terrorist network where they might be detected.

His comments suggest that Masood may have become known to MI5 when al-Qaeda was the main terrorist threat, before switching his allegiance to Isil.

Police raided at least six addresses in their search for possible accomplice­s, arresting three women and five men on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

Records suggest that Masood, who had given his occupation as an English tutor on several forms over the years, was married to a 39-year-old woman named Rohey Hydara. Police confirmed that a 39-year-old woman held in the Olympic Park in east London was among eight people arrested. Others were women aged 26 and 21, and men aged 23, 26, 27, 28 and 58, all of whom were held in Birmingham.

Masood’s conviction­s, from 1983 to 2003, included grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. He lived in London, Luton and most recently the West Midlands, but police raids were carried out in Brighton and Carmarthen­shire as well as London and Birmingham.

Mrs May said 40 people were injured in the attack, with 29 treated in hospital, seven of whom are said to be in a critical condition.

The casualties included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks, and one each from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and the United States.

Yesterday the Prime Minister visited the Chelsea and Westminste­r Hospital, which is treating some of the wounded.

 ??  ?? The Westminste­r car and knife attacker, seen here receiving emergency treatment from paramedics, has been named as Khalid Masood, 52. Last night it emerged his real name was Adrian Elms
The Westminste­r car and knife attacker, seen here receiving emergency treatment from paramedics, has been named as Khalid Masood, 52. Last night it emerged his real name was Adrian Elms

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