Assailant in London attack had been investigated for terrorism
The man killed by police in an attack outside the British Parliament was a peripheral figure in British terrorism investigations who had a long criminal history that included violent crimes, authorities said Thursday.
The Islamic State group claimed the British-born suspect, identified as Khalid Masood, 52, as one of its “soldiers.”
He is believed to be the assailant who plowed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, then ran toward the Parliament compound with a knife, which he used to fatally wound a police officer before he was shot to death by other police.
Five people died in the rampage, including the police officer and Masood, and 40 others were injured, some seriously. Among the dead was a Utah man who had been celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife.
The attack came one year to the day after twin suicide bombings in Brussels killed 32 people and injured more than 300 others. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for those attacks.
Authorities said Masood had recently been living in the West Midlands, was known by several aliases and had previously been investigated by the MI5, Britains domestic intelligence agency. He had a range of previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses dating from November 1983 to December 2003, police said. He had not been convicted of any terrorism-related offenses and was not the subject of any current police investigation.
British Prime Minister Theresa May told members of Parliament inside a packed House of Commons chamber that Masood was once investigated over concerns about violent extremism.
He was a peripheral figure, she said. The case is historic. He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent, or of the plot.
The Islamic State-linked Aamaq news agency issued a statement saying the person who carried out the “attack in front of the British Parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State.”
It added that the person “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition.”
Islamic State has called on its supporters to carry out attacks against citizens of the U.S.-led coalition that has been targeting the group since 2014.
Islamic State has been directly responsible for numerous bloody assaults around the globe but also has claimed other attacks in an apparent show of opportunism.
Source: /Los Angeles Times