Khalid Masood

Khalid Masood, born Adrian Russell Elms, was a British domestic terrorist who killed four people in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in London on March 22, 2017. Masood was shot and killed by police minutes into the attack after stabbing an unarmed police officer.“London attack: Khalid Masood identified as killer,” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39372154;
“LATEST: Man believed responsible for the terrorist attack in Westminster named,” Metropolitan Police, March 23, 2017, http://news.met.police.uk/news/update-westminster-attack-man-believed-responsible-named-230160;
Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/.
The following day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, describing Masood as a “soldier of the Islamic State.”Lizzie Dearden, “Isis claims responsibility for London attack that killed at least three victims,” Independent (London), March 23, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/isis-london-attack-westminster-terror-responsibility-latest-islamic-state-daesh-a7645696.html. British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that Masood was “known” to British intelligence service MI5, but that he was a “peripheral figure” who was not part of the “current intelligence picture.”“London attack: British-born attacker 'known to MI5',” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39363297;
Dominic Casciani, “London attack: Khalid Masood - what we know about killer,” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39373766.
British authorities do not believe that Masood had any ties to ISIS or other jihadist groups.Laura Smith-Spark and Carol Jordan, “London attack: Khalid Masood named as perpetrator,” CNN, March 23, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/23/europe/london-attack/;
Dominic Evans and Omar Fahmy, “London attack bears Islamic State ‘signature’ but no clear link,” Reuters, March 24, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-islamicstate-idUSKBN16V25A;
Tom Batchelor, “Khalid Masood: London attacker had no links to Isis or al-Qaeda, says Met Police,” Independent (London), March 28, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/khalid-masood-london-attack-isis-al-qaeda-no-links-police-a7652696.html.
Authorities are, however, investigating Masood’s use of encrypted messaging service WhatsApp minutes before he carried out the March 22 attack.Greg Toppo, “London terror attacker used WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app, before rampage,” USA Today, last updated March 27, 2017, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/26/london-attacker-whatsapp-message/99668890/.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Masood spent two decades in and out of prison for violent and petty crimes.“LATEST: Man believed responsible for the terrorist attack in Westminster named,” Metropolitan Police, March 23, 2017, http://news.met.police.uk/news/update-westminster-attack-man-believed-responsible-named-230160;
Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/.
According to London Metropolitan police, Masood had been convicted for grievous bodily harm, weapons possession, and assault. He was first convicted in November 1983 for “criminal damage,” and his last conviction came in December 2003 for possession of a knife. He had no terrorism-related convictions.Dominic Casciani, “London attack: Khalid Masood - what we know about killer,” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39373766. Between 2005 and 2009, Masood reportedly taught English in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to employees of the General Authority of Civil Aviation. Upon his return to England in 2009, Masood took a position as a “senior English teacher” at a TEFL college in Luton, according to his curriculum vitae.Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/. According to Masood’s employer at the time, Masood did not demonstrate any radical tendencies.Alice Ross, “London terrorist Khalid Masood showed no extremist tendencies, says ex-boss,” Guardian (London), March 28, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/28/westminster-terrorist-khalid-masood-wasnt-an-islamist-says-ex-boss. Nonetheless, Masood reportedly first came to the attention of British intelligence agency MI5 upon his return from Saudi Arabia because he was “loosely connected” to other terror suspects under investigation in Luton, according to London’s Guardian.Hannah Summers, Ewen MacAskill, and Vikram Dodd, “Westminster attack: Khalid Masood identified as potential extremist in 2010,” Guardian (London), March 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/26/westminster-attack-khalid-masood-identified-as-potential-extremist-in-2010. The agency then reportedly lost track of him.“London attack: British-born attacker 'known to MI5',” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39363297;
Hannah Summers, Ewen MacAskill, and Vikram Dodd, “Westminster attack: Khalid Masood identified as potential extremist in 2010,” Guardian (London), March 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/26/westminster-attack-khalid-masood-identified-as-potential-extremist-in-2010.

Masood was a convert to Islam, though there is little detail on his conversion. Security and media sources speculate that he may have radicalized during his time in prison.Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/. Masood was reportedly fervently religious. An unidentified source told Sky News that Masood had prayed regularly at a mosque on Fridays.“Khalid Masood: Everything we know about 52-year-old Westminster attacker,” Sky News, March 23, 2017, http://news.sky.com/story/khalid-masood-everything-we-know-about-52-year-old-westminster-attacker-10811626.

On March 21, 2017, Masood checked into the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton. The following day, he rented an SUV and told hotel staff that he was heading to London, but the capital “isn’t like it used to be.”Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/. Upon arriving in London, Masood rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people and wounding more than 50 others. Masood then crashed the car into railings outside the nearby Houses of Parliament. Armed with a knife, Masood stabbed unarmed police officer Keith Palmer before being fatally shot by police.“London attack: Khalid Masood identified as killer,” BBC News, March 23, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39372154. Palmer died from his wounds.Robert Mendick and Emily Allen, “Khalid Masood: Everything we know about the London attacker,” Telegraph (London), March 24, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/khalid-masood-everything-know-london-attacker/.

On March 23, ISIS’s Amaq News Agency claimed in a tweet that a “soldier of the Islamic State” had carried out the attack, though Amaq did not specifically name Masood.Laura Smith-Spark and Carol Jordan, “London attack: Khalid Masood named as perpetrator,” CNN, March 23, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/23/europe/london-attack/;
Dominic Evans and Omar Fahmy, “London attack bears Islamic State ‘signature’ but no clear link,” Reuters, March 24, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-islamicstate-idUSKBN16V25A.
Five days after the attack, British police reported that they had not discovered ties between Masood and ISIS or any other extremist group.Tom Batchelor, “Khalid Masood: London attacker had no links to Isis or al-Qaeda, says Met Police,” Independent (London), March 28, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/khalid-masood-london-attack-isis-al-qaeda-no-links-police-a7652696.html. Nonetheless,  senior national coordinator for U.K. Counter Terrorism Policing Neil Basu told British media that Masood “clearly” had an “interest in jihad.” Latika Bourke, “‘I totally condemn his actions’: London attacker Khalid Masood's wife speaks out,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 29, 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/world/i-totally-condemn-his-actions-london-attacker-khalid-masoods-wife-speaks-out-20170328-gv8k4r.html.

Less than a week after the attack, British police also opened an investigation into Masood’s use of encrypted messaging service WhatsApp. Masood had reportedly sent an encrypted message to an unidentified individual minutes before the attack.Greg Toppo, “London terror attacker used WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app, before rampage,” USA Today, last updated March 27, 2017, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/26/london-attacker-whatsapp-message/99668890/. After the revelation that Masood used the app, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that authorities must have full access to encrypted messaging services so that those platforms “don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.”Andrew Sparrow, “WhatsApp must be accessible to authorities, says Amber Rudd,” Guardian (London), March 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/26/intelligence-services-access-whatsapp-amber-rudd-westminster-attack-encrypted-messaging.

One week after the attack, Masood’s wife, Rohey Hydara, issued a statement condemning her husband’s actions.Latika Bourke, “‘I totally condemn his actions’: London attacker Khalid Masood's wife speaks out,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 29, 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/world/i-totally-condemn-his-actions-london-attacker-khalid-masoods-wife-speaks-out-20170328-gv8k4r.html.

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