Date
28 June 2017
Forensics investigators and police officers work at the site near Westminster Bridge. The death toll from Wednesday's attack has risen to five after a victim died in hospital. Photo: Reuters
Forensics investigators and police officers work at the site near Westminster Bridge. The death toll from Wednesday's attack has risen to five after a victim died in hospital. Photo: Reuters

British-born ‘lone wolf’ attacker once probed by MI5

The attacker who plowed a car through a throng of pedestrians and then stabbed a policeman outside Britain’s parliament was named on Thursday as Khalid Masood, a British-born man who was once investigated by MI5 intelligence officers over concerns about violent extremism, Reuters reports.

The death toll from Wednesday’s attack on the heart of Britain’s democracy grew to five as police said one of the injured, a 75-year-man, had died in hospital after his life support was withdrawn.

That number included Masood, 52, who was shot dead by police.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London’s public transport system.

It followed a series of Islamist militant operations that have killed some 280 people in France, Belgium and Germany in just over two years, and marked the third occasion a lone attacker has used a vehicle as a weapon.

Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency, but did not name Masood and gave no details. It was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the jihadist group.

Police said Masood was born in the county of Kent in southeast England and was most recently living in the West Midlands region of central England.

Meanwhile, a man drove a car at speed into a pedestrianized street in the Belgian city of Antwerp on Thursday, forcing people to jump out of its path.

The car sped away in the Belgian port leaving no one injured, but prosecutors said police later arrested a man suspected of being the driver, naming him as Mohamed R., a 39-year-old French national of North African origin.

Antwerp police found knives in the vehicle and a canister containing an unknown substance that bomb disposal officers were checking, Belgian federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

A US government source said Masood had associates with an interest in joining jihadist groups abroad, but there was no evidence he had done so himself.

“The people he was hanging out with did include people suspected of having an interest in traveling to join jihadi groups overseas but the attacker himself never did so,” the source said.

Police said Masood had never been convicted of a terrorist offense. His first conviction was in 1983 for criminal damage and his last one in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

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CG/RA

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