24, March 2017
The British police have identified the attacker who struck in the heart of London on Wednesday as 52-year-old Khalid Masood. “Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Thursday. The police added that Masood was known by “a number of aliases” and had been living in the West Midlands. He was born in Kent in southeast England.
“Five people remain in a critical condition and two have life-threatening injuries,” London police said in a statement. Hours earlier, the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group claimed responsibility for the British Parliament attack that left at least four people dead, including the attacker. A statement published by the Amaq News Agency, which is seen as the group’s official press service, said the assailant was a “soldier” of Daesh.
The statement said the man launched the attack because of Britain’s participation in the US-led bombing on territories in Syria and Iraq. The person “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition,” Daesh said. The wording of the statement did not however clearly show that if the attack was directly orchestrated or facilitated by the terror group, but indicated that the assailant was inspired by Daesh ideology.
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said the attacker was British-born and known to the country’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, and had been investigated before. “What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” she told MPs on Thursday, a day after an attack outside the UK Parliament in London which also injured some 40 people.
“He was a peripheral figure,” she added. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.” She added that “when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified.” In a defiant speech to the Parliament, May said, “We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.” Lawmakers earlier held a minute’s silence in honor of the victims. The assailant plowed a car on Wednesday into pedestrians and stabbed a police officer, an incident that has been declared a terrorist incident.
Police have arrested eight people during the investigation into the incident. MI5 Director General Andrew Parker earlier said his agency had fully mobilized its operational response in support of the police. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our police colleagues, grieving at their loss while also applauding the professional excellence of their response,” he said in a statement. Meanwhile, the British Queen expressed her “deepest sympathy” with the people affected by the terror attack, calling it an act of “awful violence.” “My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence,” she said in a statement issued on Thursday.