World

London killer had long criminal record

The killer was likely radicalised in prison

LONDON: Neighbours remember him as a married father of three who was "polite" and "shy", but Khalid Masood, who has been identified as the Westminster attacker, had a violent past.

With convictions spanning 20 years, the 52-year-old was known to police, though he had never been convicted of any terrorism offences.

As the police made two more "significant arrests" yesterday, more details have emerged on how Masood might have become radicalised to carry out the shocking attack on the Parliament building on Wednesday that left four victims dead and dozens injured.

Masood, who is believed to have acted alone, was shot dead after he fatally stabbed policeman Keith Palmer, 48. Englishman Leslie Rhodes, 75, died late on Thursday, and three others remain in critical condition.

Born Adrian Ames to a white mother and black father on Christmas Day in 1964, Masood later adopted his stepfather's surname, Ajao.

One of his early pictures shows him with school friends at a charity football tournament in 1980. A teammate remembers him as "extremely popular" and a "bloody good footballer", The Telegraph reported online.

Masood's criminal life began at 18, when he was convicted of criminal damage in 1983.

In 2000, while living in a quiet Sussex village, the then 35-year-old slashed the face of a cafe owner after an argument with racist overtones, Reuters reported.

At his trial, the court heard that his family had been ostracised by the village and had to move. He was sentenced to two years in jail.

Three years later, he was sentenced to six months' jail for stabbing another man. It is believed he was radicalised during one of his stints in jail.

Masood is understood to have married a Muslim woman in 2004, but it is not clear if he converted to Islam at the time, The Telegraph reported.

By 2005, he had left for Saudi Arabia to work before returning in 2009 to work as an English teacher at a Luton college online.

Masood and his family were also known to have lived a nomadic existence, and electoral rolls show him living in areas known for Islamist extremism, The Telegraph said.

He had shown up on the periphery of previous terrorism investigations that caught the attention of Britain's MI5 spy agency. But he later fell off the radar of the authorities.

Although some of those he was involved with included people suspected of being keen to travel to join jihadi groups overseas, Masood "himself never did so," said a US government source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

'SOLDIERS'

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has claimed him as one of its "soldiers", but it was unclear if he had links with the group.

Britain's most senior counter-terrorism police officer, Mr Mark Rowley, said: "Our working assumption is that he was inspired by international terrorism. Islamist-related terrorism is our assumption."

Mr David Videcette, a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer and security expert, told The Telegraph: "His age is surprising as most terrorists are radicalised at a much younger age...

"It appears that he has fallen under the malign influence of others who have encouraged or persuaded him to carry out this attack, possibly for money for his family."

The night before the attack, Masood stayed in a cheap hotel in Brighton.

Before he got into a hired car, which he drove to London and then used to plough into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, he told staff at the Preston Park Hotel, "I am off to London today", as if he was a tourist.

The capital, he added, "isn't like it used to be".

FOR MORE, SEEĀ 

Birmingham's links with terror
Police focus on attacker's motivation

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