LONDON: Detectives investigating Wednesday’s terror attack in Westminster have begun to unravel the many lives of its perpetrator, named yesterday as Khalid Masood. The 52-year-old father of three, who drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman to death, “was once a Kent schoolboy” who may have converted to radical Islam in prison, writes the Daily Mirror. Masood was born Adrian Russell Elms in Dartford, Kent, on Christmas Day 1964 and grew up in Rye, East Sussex. He later changed his surname to that of his stepfather’s, Ajao, the first of several aliases he used as he moved from place to place, including stints in Luton and London as well as Saudi Arabia. Most recently, Masood is thought to have been living with his wife and at least one child in the West Midlands, where neighbours described him as calm, reserved and religious. The Hyundai vehicle used in the attack has been traced to a rental facility in Birmingham and at least seven people from the city have been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s attack. Two further arrests have been made in London and north-west England. Masood’s CV said he taught English in Saudi Arabia in 2005 and worked as a “senior English teacher” at a college in Luton after he returned to the UK in 2009, reports The Guardian, although the claims have not been verified. He also had a string of criminal convictions for offences including grievous bodily harm and criminal damage, dating back to November 1983. He was last convicted in December 2003, for possession of a knife.
None of his convictions were terror-related, although it is thought he may have converted to Islam in prison and become radicalised either there or after his release. The night before the attack, Masood stayed at a hotel in Brighton, telling staff as he checked out that he was off to visit the capital. “London isn’t like what it used to be,” he added, reports The Sun. The death toll from Wednesday’s attack rose to four victims last night, when 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes was taken off life support. He had been crossing Westminster Bridge when Masood’s car struck him. The retired window cleaner, who lived in south London, was described as “a lovely man” by one neighbour. PC Keith Palmer, teacher Aysha Frade and American tourist Kurt Cochran also died in the attack. Police have named the man believed to be responsible for the Westminster attack as 52-year-old Khalid Masood originally from Kent. In a statement, Scotland Yard said Masood, who died during the attack, was known to police and had previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. He has not been convicted for any terrorism offences, they added, and there had been no prior intelligence about his intention to carry out an attack. Masood’s first conviction was for criminal damage in November 1983. He was last convicted in December 2003, for possession of a knife. Police believe he had been living in the West Midlands and said he was known by a number of aliases. Islamic State earlier today claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the then unnamed attacker a “soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition”. Eight people have been arrested in London and Birmingham following raids overnight.