Posts Tagged ‘Khalid Masood’

Britain’s MI5 foils Islamist terror plot to kill the Prime Minister — Two men have been charged with terror offences

December 6, 2017

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Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters.

The security services have foiled an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister in Downing Street, it has emerged.

An Islamic extremist planned to use an improvised explosive device to blow up the gates of Downing Street before entering No 10 and making an attempt on Theresa May’s life.

Two men have been charged with terror offences and are due to appear in Westminster magistrates’ court.

Details of the alleged terror plot were set out to Cabinet members on Tuesday during a briefing by Andrew Parker, the head of MI5. Mr Parker revealed that British intelligence had foiled nine terror plots in the past 12 months.

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Andrew Parker, the head of MI5

The disclosures about the charges came just hours after an official report into the Manchester terror attack revealed that the suicide bomber had been flagged for closer scrutiny by security services and that the atrocity could have been averted “had the cards fallen differently”.

MI5 investigators misinterpreted intelligence on Salman Abedi earlier this year and it was disclosed his case was due to be discussed at a meeting scheduled for nine days after his May attack at the Manchester Arena.

Salmam Abedi

The report suggested Salman Abedi’s attack in Manchester could have been stopped CREDIT: AFP/GETTY

Internal reviews into the police and MI5’s handling of the four terrorist attacks in Britain this year also revealed one of the London Bridge attackers had been under active investigation by the Security Service.

After the Westminster attack

The Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood, had also watched suicide attack videos on YouTube in the days before he carried out his assault.

David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the Home Secretary to independently check the secret internal reviews, said they were “no cause for despair” and that most attack plots continued to be broken up.

In response to his 61-page report, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said the blame for the attacks “lies squarely” with the terrorists.

The reviews found that 22-year-old Abedi had previously been a MI5 suspect, but was not under active investigation when he blew himself up among the crowd at an Ariana Grande concert.

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people CREDIT: BEN STANSALL /AFP

In advance of the attack, officers had on two separate occasions received unspecified intelligence on him “whose significance was not fully appreciated at the time” and which could have led to his case being reopened.

“In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned attack,” the report said.

Mr Anderson concluded that while it was “unknowable” if reopening the investigation would have thwarted Abedi, it was “conceivable that the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.

Between March and June, London and Manchester experienced four attacks killing a total of 36 people and wounding another 200.

Abedi had first become an MI5 “subject of interest” in 2014, but it transpired he had been mistaken for someone else and his case was closed. It was reopened the following year on mistaken intelligence that he had contacted an Islamic State figure in Libya.

But though his case remained closed from that point, Abedi “continued to be referenced from time to time in intelligence gathered for other purposes. In two separate instances before the attack, intelligence was received that was “assessed at the time to relate not to terrorism, but to possible non-nefarious activity or to criminality”.

An automated trawl of suspects’ data designed to spot closed cases that may need re-examining identified him as one of fewer than 100 individuals “out of a total of more than 20,000 closed subjects of interest, who merited further examination”.

“A meeting (arranged before the attack) was due to take place on May 31: Salman Abedi’s case would have been considered, together with the others identified. The attack intervened on May 22.”

Mr Anderson said: “With the benefit of hindsight, intelligence was misinterpreted in early 2017.”

MI5’s internal investigation concluded that the decision not to reopen an investigation into Abedi in early 2017 was “finely balanced” and “understandable”. Reviewers decided that “on the clear balance of professional opinion, a successful pre-emption of the gathering plot would have been unlikely”.

Across all of the incidents, three of the six attackers “were on MI5’s radar”. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report “will be a difficult read for everyone in Manchester and most particularly for the  bereaved families and those still recovering from the attack”.

He said the report was obviously the result of “a lot of soul searching” on behalf of MI5 and the police. He said: “I accept its conclusion that there is no way of knowing whether the Manchester attack could have been stopped.

“But it is clear that things could – and perhaps should – have been done differently.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/05/mi5-foils-islamist-terror-plot-kill-prime-minister/

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Deadly attacks in Western Europe since 2014

April 8, 2017

Reuters

Following are some of the deadly attacks in Western Europe over the past two years:

April 7, 2017 – A truck drives into a crowd on a shopping street and crashes into a department store in central Stockholm, killing four people and wounding 15 in what police call a terror attack.

March 22, 2017 – An attacker stabs a policeman close to the British parliament in London after a car ploughs into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge. Six people die, including the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, and at least 20 injured in what police call a “marauding terrorist attack”.

March 18, 2017 – A man attempts to snatch gun from female soldier on patrol at Orly airport south of Paris; man, who interior ministry spokesman says had earlier fired a potshot at police during an identity check before fleeing, is shot dead in the Orly incident by other members of soldier patrol unit.

© AFP | Police secure Paris’ Orly airport after a man who said he was ready to die for Allah was shot dead after attacking a soldier

Feb. 3, 2017 – A machete-wielding man, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), attacks soldiers in a shopping mall on the edge of the Louvre museum in Paris; he is shot and seriously wounded by soldiers. Security sources in Cairo identified the man as Abdullah Reda al-Hamamy, born in Dakahlia, a province northeast of Cairo.

Dec. 19, 2016 – A truck ploughs into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says authorities are assuming it was a terrorist attack.

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Berlin Christmas market aftermath

July 26, 2016 – Two attackers kill a priest with a blade and seriously wound another hostage in a church in northern France before being shot dead by French police. French President Francois Hollande says the two hostage-takers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

July 24, 2016 – A 21-year-old Syrian refugee is arrested after killing a pregnant woman and wounding two people with a machete in the southwestern German city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. “Given the current evidence, there is no indication that this was a terrorist attack,” police say.

– A Syrian man wounds 15 people when he blows himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach in southern Germany. Islamic State claims responsibility for the attack. The 27-year-old arrived in Germany two years ago and claimed asylum. He had been in trouble with the police repeatedly for drug-taking and other offences and had faced deportation to Bulgaria.

Emergency workers and vehicles are seen following an explosion in Ansbach

Emergency workers and vehicles are seen following the explosion in Ansbach CREDIT:REUTERS 

July 22, 2016 – An 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman apparently acting alone kills at least nine people in Munich. The teenager had no Islamist ties but was obsessed with mass killings. The attack was carried out on the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

July 18, 2016 – A 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an axe and a knife attacks passengers on a train in southern Germany, severely wounding four, before being shot dead by police. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

July 14, 2016 – A gunman drives a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The attacker is identified as a Tunisian-born Frenchman.

June 14, 2016 – A Frenchman of Moroccan origin stabs a police commander to death outside his home in a Paris suburb and kills his partner, who also worked for the police. The attacker told police negotiators during a siege that he was answering an appeal by Islamic State.

March 22, 2016 – Three Islamic State suicide bombers, all Belgian nationals, blow themselves up at Brussels airport and in a metro train in the Belgian capital, killing 32 people. Police find links with the November attacks in Paris.

Injured passengers are covered in blood and dust after the explosions in the terminal building

Injured passengers and airline staff are covered in blood and dust after the explosions in the terminal building, March 22, 2016, Brussels airport

Nov. 13, 2015 – Paris is rocked by multiple, near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city, in which 130 people die and 368 are wounded. Islamic State claims responsibility. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.

Paris attacks, November 13, 2017

Jan. 7-9, 2015 – Two Islamist militants break into an editorial meeting of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and rake it with bullets, killing 17. Another militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a supermarket on Jan. 9, killing four before police shoot him dead. The attacks prompt a worldwide solidarity movement with the slogan “Je Suis Charlie”.

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Paris, January 2015, Two terrorists shoot and kill a policeman who is already wounded and on the ground during the Charlie Hebdo shootings . Reuters photo

May 24, 2014 – Four people are killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum in central Brussels. The attacker was French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who was subsequently arrested in Marseille, France. Extradited, he is awaiting trial in Belgium.

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Man arrested on strongest level of suspicion for terror crime after Sweden attack

April 8, 2017

AFP

© Odd Andersen, AFP | The stolen truck, which was driven through a crowd outside a department in Stockholm on April 7, 2017, is taken away on April 8

Sweden early Saturday arrested a man for a “terrorist crime” hours after a beer truck ploughed into a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15.

The man was arrested “on suspicion of a terrorist crime through murder,” Karin Rosander, a communications director at the Swedish Prosecution Authority, told AFP.

Police said earlier on Friday after the attack that they had detained the man who “matched the description” of a photo released of a suspect wearing a dark hoodie and military green jacket.

But they did not confirm if he drove the truck.

According to the Aftonbladet newspaper, the same man is a 39-year-old of Uzbek origin and a supporter of the Islamic State (IS) group.

If confirmed as a terror attack, it would be Sweden’s first such deadly assault. The 15 injured included children and nine people were “seriously” wounded, health authorities said.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he had strengthened the country’s border controls.

“Terrorists want us to be afraid, want us to change our behaviour, want us to not live our lives normally, but that is what we’re going to do. So terrorists can never defeat Sweden, never,” he said.

The attack occurred just before 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) when the stolen truck slammed into the corner of the bustling Ahlens store and the popular pedestrian street Drottninggatan, above ground from Stockholm’s central subway station.

Pictures taken at the scene showed a large blue beer truck with a mangled undercarriage smashed into the Ahlens department store.

Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic.

“A massive truck starts driving … and mangles everything and just drives over exactly everything,” eyewitness Rikard Gauffin told AFP.

“It was so terrible and there were bodies lying everywhere… it was really terrifying,” he added.

The truck was towed away in the early hours of Saturday.

Trapped

Police cars and ambulances rapidly flooded the scene after the attack, as central streets and squares were blocked off amid fears that another attack could be imminent.

Helicopters hovered overhead across the city, sirens wailed, and police vans criss-crossed the streets using loudspeakers to urge people to head straight home and avoid crowded places.

But with the metro system and commuter trains shut down for several hours after the attack, other streets heading out of the city were packed with thousands of pedestrians trying to find a way home.

Haval, a 30-year-old sales clerk who didn’t want to reveal his last name, was in the metro at the time of the attack.

His train stopped immediately and he had to get out, along with all the other passengers.

They walked along the street before being ushered inside a nearby hotel for safety.

“We were suddenly trapped inside a hotel and there was the worst kind of horror in there,” he told AFP.

“We were scared, we were scared something else would happen, he added.

‘Bleeding to death’

Marko was in coffee shop near the scene with his girlfriend when he saw the truck ram into the store.

“He hit a woman first, then he drove over a bunch of other people … We took care of everyone lying on the ground,” he told Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet.

Hasan Sidi, another passerby, told Aftonbladet he saw two elderly women lying on the ground.

He said people at the scene urged him to help one of the women who was “bleeding to death”.

“One of them died… I don’t know if the other one made it,” Sidi said.

“The police were shocked. Everyone was shocked.”

‘You can’t break us’

In an editorial, Sweden’s biggest broadsheet Dagens Nyheter wrote: “What we feared for a long time finally happened.”

“The fear and panic right after the incident was inevitable. The images from the attack were terrible,” the paper said.

But Stockholm managed to stay “cool-headed” even though the attacker struck “Sweden and Stockholm’s heart”, it added.

Friday’s attack was the latest in a string of similar assaults with vehicles in Europe, including in London, Berlin and the southern French city of Nice.

The deadliest came last year in France on the July 14 Bastille Day national holiday, when a man rammed a truck into a crowd in the Mediterranean resort of Nice, killing 86 people.

Last month, Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam known to British security services, killed five people when he drove a car at high speed into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before launching a frenzied knife attack on a policeman guarding the parliament building.

And in December, a man hijacked a truck and slammed into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

In 2014, IS called for attacks on citizens of Western countries and gave instructions on how they could be carried out without military equipment, using rocks or knives, or by running people over in vehicles.

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An armed British police officer stands on duty as members of the emergency services gather at the Carriage Gates during the incident.

An armed police officer stands on duty as members of the emergency services gather at the Carriage Gates, UK Parliamanet, near Westminster Bridge during the incident on March 22, 2017. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

© AFP | A flower left in tribute to the victims of the London March 22 terror attack placed next to the Palace of Westminster

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German police investigate at the Berlin Christmas market, December 19, 2016. Berlin Police stated 12 people were killed and 48 injured in the deadly truck attack.

The truck that ran into a crowd is riddled with bullet holes

Police make another new arrest Sunday after Westminster terror attack

March 26, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Floral tributes to the victims of the March 22 terror attack are seen on Westminster Bridge near the Houses of Parliament in central London
LONDON (AFP) – British police investigating the terror attack on parliament made a new arrest on Sunday as authorities try to piece together the assailant’s motive.A 30-year-old man was arrested in the central city of Birmingham on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

A dozen people have been arrested since 52-year-old Briton Khalid Masood launched an assault on parliament on Wednesday, killing four people and leaving 50 injured before he was shot by police.

Nine people have been released without charge, while a 58-year-old man remains in custody and a 32-year-old woman has been released on bail.

Police on Saturday admitted they may never know why Masood chose to drive his hire car into pedestrians before crashing into the fence of the Houses of Parliament and fatally stabbing a policeman.

“We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him,” said senior counter-terrorism officer Neil Basu.

Basu appealed to the public to come forward with information which may shed light on the motive of Masood, a convert to Islam with a violent criminal past.

Police believe he acted alone on the day, although investigators are trying to find out whether he was encouraged or directed by others.

The Islamic State group claimed that one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack, the worst in Britain since the July 2005 bombings which left 52 people dead.

London Attacker Khalid Masood Led Itinerant Life Punctuated by Violence

March 25, 2017

Born Adrian Elms, he used multiple names, changed addresses often, and served time for knifing a man

The Preston Park Hotel in Brighton, where London attacker Khalid Masood spent his last night.

The Preston Park Hotel in Brighton, where London attacker Khalid Masood spent his last night. PHOTO: BEN STANSALL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

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March 24, 2017 6:57 p.m. ET

BRIGHTON, England—On Tuesday, Khalid Masood ate a takeout kebab for dinner and spent his last night alive alone in a small, budget hotel in this English seaside town. He checked out before 8 a.m. the next morning, like anyone else with plans for the day. “He just put the key on the counter and left,” the hotel’s receptionist said.

Hours later, police say, Masood went on a rampage 50 miles to the north in London—mowing down pedestrians with his car, killing three, before leaping from the vehicle and stabbing an unarmed policeman to death outside the British Parliament. Police then shot and killed Masood.

In the days before the attacks, Masood, a 52-year-old British convert to Islam, crisscrossed the country, traveling from Brighton on the south coast to the central city of Birmingham and back before aiming himself at the heart of the capital to undertake the last acts in an itinerant life punctuated with violence.

Khalid Masood in an undated photo released by the Metropolitan Police.

Khalid Masood in an undated photo released by the Metropolitan Police. PHOTO:METROPOLITAN POLICE/REUTERS
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On Friday, police and intelligence officers were still trying to assemble the elements of Masood’s confusing story and decipher his motives. Born Adrian Elms in southeast England, he used multiple names and aliases, police said.

He changed addresses regularly, appearing in recent years to move among places that have had connections to extremist plots. He had multiple criminal convictions—the first when he was still a teenager—and served jail time.

Since Wednesday’s terrorist assault, the worst in Britain since a series of coordinated bombings in 2005 killed 52 people, hundreds of detectives have worked to trace Masood’s movements and associates.

After a series of raids on locations connected to Masood, police on Friday were holding four people on suspicion that they were preparing terrorist acts. A fifth person was released from custody on bail.

“Our determination is to find out if either he acted totally alone, inspired by perhaps terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him,” said Mark Rowley, deputy commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police.

A British intelligence official said authorities were looking into whether Masood became radicalized while in prison, an increasingly common path to terrorism. The official also said it was unclear what role several trips Masood made to Saudi Arabia had played.

A postcard is left among candles during a candlelit vigil at London’s Trafalgar Square on Thursday night.

A postcard is left among candles during a candlelit vigil at London’s Trafalgar Square on Thursday night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
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“We’re trying to piece together what we can,” the official said. “The big question is at what point did he decide to do this and why, and who else is involved.”

Extremist group Islamic State this week said Masood was one of its “soldiers” and claimed responsibility for the attack. But the intelligence official said authorities had found no evidence Masood was linked to or had communicated with Islamic State.

It wasn’t clear when he became a Muslim. Prime Minister Theresa May said earlier this week that Masood had been investigated years ago in connection with extremism, but had been deemed a “peripheral figure.”

Long stretches of Masood’s life are difficult to account for. He was born on Christmas Day in 1964, according to police. He attended high school in Kent, southeast of London. By the late 1990s, when Masood was in his 30s, he had landed in the quiet village of Northiam in nearby East Sussex.

A police officer exits a residential building in Birmingham that was raided by anti-terror forces in the early hours of Thursday.

A police officer exits a residential building in Birmingham that was raided by anti-terror forces in the early hours of Thursday. PHOTO: PAUL ELLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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At the time, he was still using the name Adrian Elms. People who knew him said he worked at a small family-owned business called Aaron Chemicals and went by the nickname Aidy. He wasn’t known to practice Islam. But amid these signs of a conventional life, there were signs of internal turmoil.

“He was a normal guy until he had a couple of drinks,” said Nigel Gill, who runs a local convenience store and used to sell beer to Masood. Mr. Gill said Masood once attacked a woman’s car with a baseball bat after an argument.

In 2000, Masood lashed out again. Heather Mott said her late husband, Piers, the owner of a local cafe, was in a pub then called the Crown and Thistle when Masood started an argument with another customer. Mr. Mott stepped in.

An angry Masood attacked her husband with a knife, Mrs. Mott said. The assault left a 3-inch gash on Mr. Mott’s face, according to a report of the court proceedings published that year in the local newspaper, the Argus.

A lawyer for Masood argued there were “racial overtones” to the dispute, the Argus said. Masood’s mother is white, his father black. Masood was sentenced to two years in prison.

Adrian Baker, who owns a carpet shop next to the pub where the attack took place, said he would cross the road to avoid walking past Masood. “You could tell he was a bit of a troublemaker,” he said. After the knife attack, Masood “just disappeared,” Mr. Gill said.

Masood went to Saudi Arabia after he was released from prison. The Saudi Embassy in London said Masood was in Saudi Arabia on a work visa to teach English from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009.

In 2015, he obtained a pilgrimage visa through a travel agent and was in the country in March of that year, the embassy said. “During his time in Saudi Arabia, Khalid Masood did not appear on the security services’ radar and does not have a criminal record in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the embassy said.

He was very fatherly and loving and I was quite shocked. There was never any indication that he’d be radicalized or aggressive. I felt sickened.

—Katie Garricques, a former neighbor of Masood in Luton, England

Katie Garricques, who lives in Luton on the outskirts of London, said she recognized Masood from a police photo as her neighbor for a couple of years around 2010 and 2011. He lived there with his wife, who wore African attire, and two children, she said, adding he worked frequently in the garden. She said they would exchange hellos.

“He was very fatherly and loving and I was quite shocked. There was never any indication that he’d be radicalized or aggressive,” she said. “I felt sickened.”

Masood’s time in Luton, home to a large population of Muslims, coincided with bursts there of political and sectarian ferment. At around that time, a man named Junead Khan was also living in Luton. Mr. Khan was later convicted of preparing a terror attack in connection with a plan to kill Royal Air Force personnel. Mr. Khan posted a video on YouTube in those years showing himself listening to music that features in some ISIS propaganda while driving across the Westminster Bridge, scene of Masood’s attack this week.

Later, Masood seems to have moved to Birmingham, a city with a history of connections to terror. Since the Wednesday attack, police have searched a series of addresses in the city and detained two people there.

Ciaran Molloy and other neighbors said they recognized Masood as a previous occupant of one of the houses being searched from a photo circulated in the media. They said he lived there with a woman and small children and rarely spoke to other residents on the quiet street.

Several neighbors said that Masood occasionally dressed in traditional Muslim attire—a white robe and a skullcap—while his wife always wore a head scarf but didn’t cover her face.

Fernando Costa, a 46-year-old auto mechanic from Portugal, said his interactions with Masood amounted to regular neighborly banter—questions of lawn mowing, driveway parking, and the weather. “I’d never think this guy could do something like this,” Mr. Costa said.

Masood and his family lived on the street for at least three years, several neighbors said, and left just before Christmas. “It was pretty sudden,” Mr. Molloy said.

Last Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, Masood checked into the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton late in the evening, according to the hotel receptionist, and left early the next morning.

By the start of the week, Masood was back in Birmingham, where he rented a gray Hyundai Tucson compact SUV at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in a dingy industrial park about a mile from the house where neighbors said he once lived.

He drove it back to Brighton and returned to the Preston Park. The receptionist said he spent most of Tuesday in his room. He paid by credit card and didn’t make any phone calls, before leaving the next morning, bound for London and mayhem.

Correction
Khalid Masood was born Adrian Elms. The headline on an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated he was born Adrian Alms. (March 25)

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London attacker Khalid Masood once stabbed another man in the face — 52-year-old criminal, militant links, convert to Islam — “He took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children.”

March 24, 2017

Reuters

Fri Mar 24, 2017 | 7:10am EDT

By Michael Holden | BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Image may contain: one or more people, car, outdoor and text

A deadly London terror strike plunged the city into chaos Wednesday when a bloodthirsty motorist mowed down helpless pedestrians on a historic bridge before crashing a House of Parliament gate and stabbing a police officer to death.

Before he killed at least four people in Britain’s deadliest attack since the 2005 London bombings, Khalid Masood was considered by intelligence officers to be a criminal who posed little serious threat.

A British-born Muslim convert, Masood had shown up on the periphery of previous terrorism investigations that brought him to the attention of Britain’s MI5 spy agency.

But the 52-year-old was not under investigation when he sped across Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, plowing down pedestrians with a hired car before running into the parliamentary grounds and fatally stabbing an unarmed policeman.

He was shot dead by police.

Although some of those he was involved with included people suspected of being keen to travel to join jihadi groups overseas, Masood “himself never did so”, said a U.S. government source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“Our investigation focuses on understanding his motivation, his operation and his associates,” Britain’s senior counterterrorism police officer, Mark Rowley, told reporters.

“Whilst there is still no evidence of further threats, you’ll understand our determination is to find out if either he acted totally alone, inspired perhaps by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Masood’s attack, although it was unclear what links – if any – he had with the militant group. Police said there had been no prior intelligence about his intent to mount an attack.

BRITISH-BORN KILLER

Born Adrian Russell Ajao in Kent to the southeast of London on Christmas Day in 1964, he moved though several addresses in England, although he was known to have lived recently in Birmingham in central England.

Floral tributes are seen outside New Scotland Yard following a recent attack in Westminster, in London, Britain March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The Daily Mail newspaper said he was brought up by his single mother in the town of Rye on England’s south coast, later converting to Islam and changing his name. Other media reports said he was a married father of three and a former English teacher who was into bodybuilding.

Known by a number of aliases, he racked up a string of convictions, but none for terrorism-related offences. His occupation was unclear.

It was as long ago as November 1983 that he first came to the attention of authorities when he was found guilty of causing criminal damage, while his last conviction came 14 years ago in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

Little detail has officially been given about the man and what might have led him to carry out Wednesday’s attack, the deadliest in Britain since the London suicide bombings of 2005 by four young British Islamists, which killed 52.

“Our working assumption is that he was inspired by international terrorism,” said Rowley.

Rowley said detectives were questioning nine people in custody, having made two further “significant” arrests in central and northwest England.

A former neighbor from Birmingham said: “When I saw the pictures on TV and in the papers of the man who carried out the attack, I recognized him as the man who used to live next door.”

“He had a young child, who I’d think was about 5 or 6 years old. There was a woman living there with him, an Asian woman. He seemed to be quite nice, he would be taking care of his garden and the weeds,” Iwona Romek, 45, told reporters at her home.

In December, she said, he suddenly moved out.

BIRMINGHAM CONNECTION

Birmingham has been one of the hotbeds for British Islamists. According to a study by the Henry Jackson think tank earlier this month, 39 of 269 people convicted in Britain of terrorism offences from 1998 to 2015 came from the city.

Among those plots was one to kidnap and behead a British soldier. In December, two men were found guilty of planning to give 3,000 pounds ($3,750) to Brussels bombing suspect Mohamed Abrini – widely known as “the man in the hat”.

There are over 213,000 Muslims in Birmingham, making up over a fifth of the population, according to the 2011 census, and there has been growing concern about divisions in the diverse city.

The car Masood used in Wednesday’s attack had been hired from rental firm Enterprise’s Spring Hill branch in Birmingham, suggesting he still had connections to the area.

Since the attack in London, police have raided a number of addresses across the city, arresting five men and two women on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

Masood may have rented an apartment close to the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, not far from the Enterprise offices, and that was one of the properties raided by armed officers.

On the eve of the attack that Prime Minister Theresa May cast as an attack on democracy, Masood spent his last night in a budget hotel in Brighton on the south coast where he ate a takeaway kebab, the Sun newspaper said.

“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy,” May told parliament. “He took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children.”

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Ralph Boulton)

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London Terror Attack: Boris Johnson accuses social media sites of inciting terrorism — Google and Twitter have published guides to mounting a car terror attack

March 24, 2017

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Google and Twitter

  • Fanatics are urged to use cars before going on stabbing rampage in the guides
  • Video revealed after Khalid Masood killed three in car then stabbed a policeman
  • Manuals told jihadists in West to learn from Palestinian terrorists who use cars 
  • News comes as Boris Johnson accused social media sites of inciting terrorism 

Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training.

Fanatics are urged to deploy large vehicles as ‘tools of war’ before going on a stabbing rampage – the template for Wednesday’s atrocity in Westminster. Boris Johnson accused social media websites of inciting terrorism.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training

And Google’s YouTube video platform was found to be raking in money from conspiracy theories saying the London outrage was a hoax.

As the maniac behind the attack was unmasked as 52-year-old Khalid Masood:

  •  The security services faced questions because he was known to police and MI5;
  •  Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied failures but admitted: ‘One got through’;
  •  It emerged MPs had raised concerns about the Commons gates Masood waltzed through;
  •  Officials revealed that he was shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard, rather than by armed police;
  •  Islamic State claimed Masood was its ‘soldier’;
  •  Officers made eight arrests around the country;
  •  The death toll rose to five when a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night.

Masood, a bodybuilder and violent criminal who claimed to have been a teacher, raced across Westminster Bridge on Wednesday in a hire car, smashing into pedestrians at up to 70mph, killing three and injuring 28.

He then slipped through a gate into the precincts of Parliament where he hacked to death Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old constable.

Born Adrian Elms in Kent, Masood had converted to Islam and was ‘on the radar’ of MI5. Police said he had been ‘inspired’ by international terrorism.

But last night attention turned to whether the attacker, who is said to have acted as a ‘lone wolf’, could have been radicalised online.

Speaking at a security conference in the US, Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson called on internet giants to take action. He said: ‘We are going to have to engage not just militarily, but also to stop the stuff on the internet that is corrupting and polluting so many people.

‘This is something that the internet companies and social media companies need to think about.

Wedding Day: Murdered constable Keith Palmer with wife Michelle

Wedding Day: Murdered constable Keith Palmer with wife Michelle

‘They need to do more to take that stuff off their media, the incitements, the information about how to become a terrorist, the radicalising sermons and messages. That needs to come down.’

In the hours after the London attack, the Daily Mail found vile Islamic State terror manuals online through simple searches on Google and Twitter. One included a section on using vehicles as weapons.

It told jihadists in the West to learn from Palestinian terrorists who ‘have resorted to using cars as tools of war, also knives as weapons which are easily available from DIY stores’. The manual was published a year ago, before the vehicle attacks in Nice, Berlin and London, which have killed 102 people and injured more than 500. Another Islamic State publication was available through Google and Twitter with detailed instructions on how to cause mayhem.

It was written after the Bastille Day attack in Nice, when a truck was used to murder 86 people – ten of them children and teenagers – at a fireworks display. It said the Nice attack ‘superbly demonstrated’ how vehicles can be used for terror, having the effect of ‘smashing their bodies while crushing their heads, torsos and limbs under the vehicle’s wheels leaving behind a trail of carnage’.

It added: ‘Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire. But unlike knives, which if found in one’s possession can be a cause for suspicion, vehicles arouse absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world. It has been shown that smaller vehicles are incapable of granting the level of carnage that is sought. One of the main reasons for this is smaller vehicles lack the weight and wheel span required for crushing many victims.

‘The type of vehicle most appropriate for such an operation is a large load-bearing truck.’

The guide also gave instructions on where on the body to strike with a knife. The social media giants were criticised by MPs last week for failing to do enough to remove extremist content.

Last night, Google removed links to the manuals that were found by the Mail. A spokesman said: ‘We are deeply troubled by violence and acts of terrorism and our thoughts are with the victims of yesterday’s attack in London. We remove links to illegal content in search when reported to us.’

Standing together: Thousands gathered in London's Trafalgar Square today to pay a defiant tribute to those who lost their lives in the attack

Standing together: Thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square today to pay a defiant tribute to those who lost their lives in the attack

Thousands take to Trafalgar Square to respect London terror victims

Links to the Islamic State manuals were available on Twitter, as well as pictures of pages with detailed instructions on how to kill innocent people.

Twitter removed one suspect user’s account after being contacted by the Mail. But other images were not removed as these had been posted by academics who were not promoting the manuals in a positive way.

Twitter said that in the last six months of 2016 it suspended 376,890 accounts for violations related to promotion of terrorism.

A spokesman added: ‘We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.’

Among those injured in Wednesday’s attack were nationals from France, Romania, South Korea, Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy, the US and Greece. Twelve of the victims had to be treated in hospital for serious injuries.

UK students Travis Frain and Owen Lambert were among the injured, as were four South Korean tourists, including one with serious injuries.

 YouTube makes money on sick hoax claim videos 

KATHERINE RUSHTON, MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Google is making money from vile claims that the London terror attack was a hoax, and that its victims were actors and mannequins.

Netflix, Guess, Trivago, Opodo, Asus and SunLife insurance have adverts alongside videos published by conspiracy theorists on Google’s YouTube platform.

Within hours of the attack, YouTube was hosting hundreds of videos claiming the atrocity was faked.

One user sang Allahu Akbar to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down – a reference to Westminster Bridge where the attacker ploughed into pedestrians.

Google profits from the ads itself, but also hands a cut directly to those who post shocking videos.

Some of those posting about Wednesday’s attack claimed that those who were injured and killed were in fact actors using plastic limbs and that the emergency services were in on an elaborate plot to terrify ordinary citizens.

Conspiracy theorists: The vile videos have adverts alongside them

Conspiracy theorists: The vile videos have adverts alongside them

Ads from the online travel site Opodo appeared on posts by the user Russianvids, claiming that a woman trapped under a bus looked like a mannequin ‘they pulled out of Walmart’. One of the viewers said the ‘actors are terrible’. Others claim that the atrocity was orchestrated by Jews trying to frame Islamists, Freemasons, or the ‘New World Order’ – a name used to describe a new, global totalitarian government which is allegedly taking over the world. They even drew links to the Prime Minister and the Queen. Many of the wild theories also dwell on the date of the attack – 22 March, or 3/22 as it would be written in the US.

The fantasists claim that the number 322 has occult associations, and point out that is shorthand for Skull and Bones, an American secret society.

One user, ScreamCrow Face, published a series of rants suggesting that London Mayor Sadiq Khan staged the attack to support his demands for more police on the streets. The video featured ads by Opodo, Asus, Guess, Trivago and Sleep mattresses.

Yesterday, Google had disabled ads on many but not all of the hateful videos.

The firm places the ads using automated technology rather than human judgment.

Those posting videos on the site receive up to £6.15 for every 1,000 views, and many are watched millions of times.

Many of the users who have posted hoax claim videos about the attack have made money from YouTube, but not necessarily from ads on that video itself. The videos only host ads where clearly stated.

A YouTube spokesman said last night: ‘Videos threatening violence are against YouTube’s policies and we remove them quickly when they are flagged to us.

‘When it comes to advertising, we have strict guidelines that define where ads should appear.’

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London attack: counter-terrorism officers make two more ‘significant arrests’ — Police ask for help from the public

March 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A flower left in tribute to the victims of the London March 22 terror attack placed next to the Palace of Westminster
LONDON (AFP) – Two more people have been arrested over Wednesday’s terror attack in London, police said on Friday, also giving the attacker’s birth name as Adrian Russell and appealing to the public for information about him.”We have made two further significant arrests overnight,” counter-terrorism commander Mark Rowley said, confirming that there are currently nine people in total in custody over the attack.

One woman arrested earlier was released on bail.

Police had earlier named the attacker as Khalid Masood but said he had been using “a number of aliases”.

Rowley said police carried out more than dozen searches, seizing 2,700 items including “massive amounts of computer data” and were attempting to work out whether others had “encouraged, supported or directed him”.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying the attacker was one of its “soldiers”.

“There might be people out there who did have concerns about Masood but did not feel comfortable for whatever reason in passing those concerns to us,” Rowley said, appealing for them to come forward.

The anti-terror police chief said “at least 50” people were injured when Masood ploughed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before knifing a policeman to death just inside the gates of Britain’s parliament and being shot dead by another officer.

A total of 31 people of 12 nationalities have been treated in hospital and one person has “life-threatening injuries”, Rowley said.

He also named a 75-year-old man who died of his injuries in hospital on Thursday as Leslie Rhodes from Streatham in south London.

His death brought the number of victims to four.

Related:

American Named as a Victim of London Terror Attacker — President Trump paid tribute to Mr Cochran as a ‘great American’ on Thursday

March 23, 2017

Kurt and Melissa Cochran from West Bountiful, Utah, were among those who were run over by a terrorist in a 4x4 on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday. Mr Cochran died while his wife remains in hospital 

Kurt and Melissa Cochran from West Bountiful, Utah, were among those who were run over by a terrorist in a 4×4 on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday. Mr Cochran died while his wife remains in hospital

  • Kurt and Melissa Cochran were the first pedestrians hit on Westminster Bridge
  • Mr Cochran, 54, was hurled over the edge and on to a walkway beneath it
  • His wife lay frozen on the bridge with a broken leg as strangers tended to her
  • Mr Cochran died and his 46-year-old wife is recovering in hospital in the UK
  • The pair were touring Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary 
  • London, where Mrs Cochran’s parents work as missionaries, was their final stop 
  • President Trump paid tribute to Mr Cochran as a ‘great American’ on Thursday  

A Utah couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on a dream tour of Europe are among the victims of the London terror attack.

Kurt Cochran, 54, died after being thrown over Westminster Bridge onto a walkway beneath it when ISIS terrorist Khalid Masood mowed him down in his Hyundai 4×4.

His 46-year-old wife Melissa was also struck. She lay frozen on the bridge among postcards from a toppled tourism stand with blood pouring from her head while strangers consoled her.

Mrs Cochran was taken to hospital in the UK where she is being treated for a broken leg and rib.

They were the first people hit when Masood, who later died in hospital after being shot by police, embarked on his murderous path across the bridge where at least ten more innocent pedestrians were hit.

Scroll down for video 

Mr Cochran hurled over the parapet and landed on the concrete walkway under the bridge

Mr Cochran hurled over the parapet and landed on the concrete walkway under the bridge

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Strangers consoled Mrs Cochran as she lay on the bridge next to a toppled postcard stand before an ambulance arrived 

Strangers consoled Mrs Cochran as she lay on the bridge next to a toppled postcard stand before an ambulance arrived

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The 46-year-old mother desperately cluthced on to a stranger who held her bleeding head as she lay among scattered postcards while they waited for an ambulance. The chilling image swept the world yesterday before the pair were identified

The 46-year-old mother desperately cluthced on to a stranger who held her bleeding head as she lay among scattered postcards while they waited for an ambulance. The chilling image swept the world yesterday before the pair were identified

A mother who was on her way to collect her children from school was also killed before the terrorist came to a stop at the Houses of Parliament, crashing his car into railings.

A policeman standing guard in New Palace Yard was stabbed and died at the scene.

Distraught family confirmed Mr and Mrs Cochran’s involvement in the atrocity on Thursday, telling how they ‘ached’ for the couple’s children.

London was their final stop after a tour of other European destinations.

They had already visited Holland, Germany, Ireland and Scotland and were in the English capital to spend time with Mrs Cochran’s parents who work there as missionaries for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

They were due to return home to the US on Thursday.

‘Our family is heartbroken to learn of the death of our son-in-law, Kurt W. Cochran, who was a victim of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London.

‘Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our daughter and sister Melissa.

‘They were in Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and were scheduled to return to the United States on Thursday,’ Mrs Cochran’s parents said in a statement.

Other relatives reeled from the news on social media.

‘This pain is so heart wrenching and raw it has rocked our family and all that knew him to its core. We will miss Kurt beyond words. We love you Kurt. RIP,’ said one.

The pair were on the south London end of the bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament, when they were hit. Mr Cochran was either pushed over the edge or jumped on to the walkway beneath it

The pair were on the south London end of the bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament, when they were hit. Mr Cochran was either pushed over the edge or jumped on to the walkway beneath it

Mr Cochran's family confirmed that he had succumb to his injuries on Facebook on Thursday. The pair have run a recording studio from their Utah home for the last 10 years 

Mr Cochran’s family confirmed that he had succumb to his injuries on Facebook on Thursday. The pair have run a recording studio from their Utah home for the last 10 years

They were in London as part of a tour of Europe when they were struck on Wednesday afternoon

They were in London as part of a tour of Europe when they were struck on Wednesday afternoon

They were in London as part of a tour of Europe when they were struck on Wednesday afternoon

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President Trump paid tribute to the man as a 'great American' on Thursday morning 

President Trump paid tribute to the man as a ‘great American’ on Thursday morning

Mrs Cochran's family is  fundraising on her behalf while she reels from the tragedy

Mrs Cochran’s family is fundraising on her behalf while she reels from the tragedy

Mr Cochran’s sister-in-law paid tribute to him as a ‘hero’ while his brother-in-law said: ‘Our hearts ache for her and their children in losing their loving companion and father. Please continue to pray for our family.’  They are now fundraising on her behalf.

President Donald Trump eulogized Mr Cochran as a ‘great American.’

The pair excitedly shared photographs from their travels including this one, posted by Mr Cochran days before his death 

The pair excitedly shared photographs from their travels including this one, posted by Mr Cochran days before his death

‘My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends,’ he said in a tweet on Thursday morning.

Mr Cochran is among three innocent victims who died in the attacks.

The other two include a mother who was on her way to collect her children from school and a policeman who was stabbed by the terrorist outside the Houses of Parliament.

Aysha Frade, 43, was on her way to collect her daughters aged eight and 11 when she was hit and thrown under a bus.

Policeman Keith Palmer was stabbed by the terrorist in New Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament.

A fundraising page launched for his family has reached nearly £130,000 ($160,000). British Prime Minister Theresa May said of the 48-year-old father: ‘He was every inch a hero. And his actions will never be forgotten.’

ISIS claimed responsibility for the atrocities on Thursday.

Masood drove his 4×4 from the south end of Westminster Bridge

President Trump said he had shared a phone call with Prime Minister Theresa May to express his condolences on Wednesday night.

PC Keith Palmer died after being stabbed by the terrorist outside Parliament Square. Aysha Frade was also killed on the bridge. She was on her way to collect her daughters from school

PC Keith Palmer died after being stabbed by the terrorist outside Parliament Square. Aysha Frade was also killed on the bridge. She was on her way to collect her daughters from school

Aysha Frade was also killed on the bridge. She was on her way to collect her daughters from school. PC Keith Palmer died after being stabbed by the terrorist at the Houses of Parliament

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks which also saw a policeman stabbed to death outside the Houses of Parliament 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks which also saw a policeman stabbed to death outside the Houses of Parliament

Westminster falls silent in memory of terror attack victims
Terrorist Khalid Masood was shot by police in New Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament. He died in hospital 

Terrorist Khalid Masood was shot by police in New Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament. He died in hospital

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4342450/American-named-victim-London-terror-attack.html

British-Born Khalid Masood Identified as London Attacker — An American Is Among The Dead in London — Deadliest act of terror in the U.K. in more than a decade

March 23, 2017

Utah man is among those killed in attack claimed by Islamic State

 Armed police pushing people back following the attack outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.
Armed police pushing people back following the attack outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Police Name London Suspect; American Victim Is Identified
Police identified the suspected Islamist terrorist who carried out the deadly rampage outside Parliament as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man who had previous convictions. Image: AFP/Getty Images

LONDON—Police identified the suspected Islamist terrorist who carried out the deadly rampage outside Parliament as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man who had previous convictions but who Prime Minister Theresa May said wasn’t seen as “part of the current intelligence picture.”

Masood was born in Kent, east of London, and had most recently been living in the West Midlands, police said. He wasn’t the subject of any current investigations, and U.K. authorities had no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack. He had been known to police, however, and had a range of convictions unrelated to terror offenses, police said, the most recent one for the possession of a knife in 2003.

Khalid Masood, identified by police as the attacker, being treated by emergency services outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Khalid Masood, identified by police as the attacker, being treated by emergency services outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. PHOTO: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Police say Masood on Wednesday mowed down pedestrians on a crowded bridge before crashing his car near the gates of Parliament and stabbing a policeman, leaving three dead. He was shot to death, authorities said, and dozens were injured in the most serious act of terror in the U.K. since 2005, when coordinated bombings by Islamist extremists on buses and subway trains claimed 52 lives.

In a speech to Parliament the day after the deadliest act of terror in the U.K. in more than a decade, Mrs. May said the perpetrator had been investigated years earlier over extremist concerns but that authorities had no prior intelligence of his intent and viewed him as a “peripheral figure.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement on its affiliated Amaq news agency that it was a response to U.S.-led coalition strikes against the extremist group. The group has often claimed responsibility for such attacks but the nature and scope of its involvement—or whether it was involved at all—remains unclear.

A Utah man visiting Europe was killed and his wife was seriously injured in the attack. Kurt Cochran and his wife, Melissa, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, a family spokesman said. Melissa remained in the hospital on Thursday.

Police were working to piece together the details of the attack at the heart of Britain’s democracy, searching six properties and arresting eight people. Amid heightened security at a landmark that has endured for centuries, lawmakers were returning to parliamentary business, vowing to remain strong in the face of terrorist violence.

“Today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” Mrs. May said. “And we meet here in the oldest of all parliaments because we know that democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

After saying late Wednesday that four people had been killed by the attacker—who rammed a vehicle into pedestrians and stabbed a police officer—police gave a lower death toll Thursday, saying three people had died. Twenty-nine people were in the hospital, seven of them in critical condition.

Mrs. May spent 40 minutes speaking with some of the victims and staff at a London hospital, government spokesman James Slack said.

When Vehicles Were Used as Weapons

Glasgow: Two men drove a Jeep carrying gas canisters into the entrance of Glasgow International Airport, where it burst into flames.Flames rise from the Jeep after the incident.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tokyo: Tomohiro Kato drove a truck into a popular pedestrian shopping street, killing three men with the vehicle before stabbing 14 people, fatally wounding four.Rescue workers gather at the site of the incident.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Apeldoorn, Netherlands: In an attempted attack on the Dutch royal family, a man rammed his car through parade route crowds, killing seven bystanders and injuring 10.Police officers are seen near the driver of the car.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tel Aviv: One man was killed and 16 others injured after a truck crashed into several vehicles and pedestrians on a crowded Tel Aviv roadway. The driver denied intentionally causing the collision.Israeli rescue workers attend the scene. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beijing: Five people were killed and 40 more injured after a Jeep crashed in front of the Forbidden City. Chinese police described it as a terrorist attack.People walk along the sidewalk of Chang’an Avenue as smoke rises in front of the main entrance of the Forbidden City.PHOTO: REUTERS

Dijon and Nantes, France: A driver shouting Islamic phrases ran down 13 pedestrians in a half-hour span in Dijon, seriously injuring two. The next day, another man drove into a crowd of holiday shoppers in Nantes, wounding 11 people.Police officers guard the van that crashed into a French Christmas market in Nantes, western France.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Nice, France: A truck struck a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. The incident took place on the famous Promenade des Anglais during a firework display.Bodies lie on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Berlin: A truck drove onto the sidewalk at a Christmas market in the German capital. At least a dozen people were killed and around 50 were injured.A view of the truck that crashed into the Christmas market.

Mrs. May said that in addition to 12 Britons admitted to the hospital, the victims of the attack included one American, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian and two Greeks.

Mark Rowley, the U.K.’s top counterterror policeman, told reporters that authorities believe “the attacker acted alone and was inspired by international terrorism.”

He said hundreds of officers had worked through the night, searching six addresses in London, Birmingham and elsewhere in the U.K., but didn’t offer details on those who had been arrested. Several extremist suspects have in the past been connected with Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, and the surrounding Midlands region.

The car used in the attack was rented in the Birmingham area, Enterprise Rent-A-Car said. The company said an employee identified the vehicle it based on a license plate from an image of the attack, and the company alerted authorities after running another check.

“We are cooperating fully with the authorities and will provide any assistance that we can to the investigation,” Enterprise said.

Witnesses to Wednesday’s assault said the attacker drove a sport-utility vehicle into people on Westminster Bridge before hitting a fence surrounding Parliament. The assailant He ran at a police officer guarding the complex and stabbed him, authorities said, before being shot and killed by police.

The nearby DLD College London identified one of the victims as Aysha Frade, a member of its administration team. “She was highly regarded and loved by our students and by her colleagues,” the school said.

The police officer who was stabbed to death was identified as Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father, who tackled the attacker as he rushed toward Parliament.

“He was every inch a hero,” Mrs. May said. “And his actions will never be forgotten.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May recounted how Wednesday’s terror attack in London unfolded. The incident was captured by bystanders who shared what they witnessed across social media. Photo: Reuters

The gravely injured included a 29-year-old Romanian architect visiting London to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday. She was knocked into the Thames, where a nearby boat rescued her. She was in a critical condition after intensive brain surgery to remove a blood clot, her country’s ambassador to the U.K., Dan Mihalache, told Romanian TV media.

The threat level in the U.K. remained unchanged at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely. The highest level, “critical,” means authorities have specific intelligence that an attack is imminent.

At Parliament, the British flag flew at half-staff. Lawmakers returned to work largely as usual, though it was slower than normal, with only one entrance open and the area still closed off to traffic. The surrounding area, typically bustling with tourists taking selfies, was quiet.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, a U.K. lawmaker, said it was an important symbol that Parliament was in session as normal.

“The attack yesterday was not just on individuals but on our whole system of democracy and on our system of values,” Mr. Symonds said, as he walked toward Parliament, taking an alternative route because the primary entries were cordoned off.

Around the capital, there was an increased security presence, as police said they had increased hours and canceled leave for officers.

London Mourns Victims of Terror Attack

London mourned the victims of a terror attack near Parliament while police made eight arrests in a continuing investigation

A police officer laid flowers on Whitehall around a photograph of police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in the terror attack. The attacker used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before he stabbed the police officer to death.
A police officer laid flowers on Whitehall around a photograph of police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in the terror attack. The attacker used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before he stabbed the police officer to death. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Police in forensic suits searched a grassed area in Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Thursday.
Police in forensic suits searched a grassed area in Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Thursday. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Britain’s flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament in London the day after the attack.
Britain’s flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament in London the day after the attack. JONATHAN BRADY/ZUMA PRESS
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Forensic officers working near the Houses of Parliament in London.
Forensic officers working near the Houses of Parliament in London. JONATHAN BRADY/ZUMA PRESS
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Flowers lay outside a conference center near the British parliament in the Westminster area of London where three people were killed in the terror attack Wednesday.
Flowers lay outside a conference center near the British parliament in the Westminster area of London where three people were killed in the terror attack Wednesday. GARETH FULLER/PRESS ASSOCIATION/ZUMA PRESS
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Members of the security services picked through debris, including a car number plate, on Westminster Bridge.
Members of the security services picked through debris, including a car number plate, on Westminster Bridge. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Britain’s Union Flag flies at half staff over Whitehall, which remained sealed off Thursday.<br>
Britain’s Union Flag flies at half staff over Whitehall, which remained sealed off Thursday.
PETE MACLAINE/I-IMAGES/ZUMA PRESS
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A police officer enters a property in Birmingham, England, in a raid connected to the terror attack. Police raided six addresses and arrested eight people as part of the investigation.
A police officer enters a property in Birmingham, England, in a raid connected to the terror attack. Police raided six addresses and arrested eight people as part of the investigation. EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS
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Members of Parliament stand in silence to mark the attack. Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech to Parliament that the attacker was British-born and had previously been investigated in relation to extremism.
Members of Parliament stand in silence to mark the attack. Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech to Parliament that the attacker was British-born and had previously been investigated in relation to extremism. PRU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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An armed British officer lifts police cordon tape in London’s Westminster district. There was an increased police presence in the city on Thursday.
An armed British officer lifts police cordon tape in London’s Westminster district. There was an increased police presence in the city on Thursday. SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS
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A woman lies injured after the attack on Westminster Bridge.
A woman lies injured after the attack on Westminster Bridge. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
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A woman assisting an injured person on Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames next to Parliament.
A woman assisting an injured person on Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames next to Parliament. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
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People being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament, which went into lockdown following the attack but returned to business on Thursday.
People being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament, which went into lockdown following the attack but returned to business on Thursday. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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An injured woman is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge.
An injured woman is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge. CARL COURT/GETTY IMAGES
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Newly appointed London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, wearing blue collar, bows her head on Thursday during a minute of silence outside New Scotland Yard in London for fallen officer Police Constable Keith Palmer.
Newly appointed London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, wearing blue collar, bows her head on Thursday during a minute of silence outside New Scotland Yard in London for fallen officer Police Constable Keith Palmer. ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

 

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The style of the attack, the third in less than a year in which a vehicle was used as a tool of terrorism, presents a special challenge to security officials.

“We’re not going to be in a position where we can ban knives, ban cars and trucks,” said Jonathan Russell, head of policy at Quilliam, a London-based counterterrorism think tank. “These are the weapons that people are using.”

Senior intelligence officials have warned that the U.K. was a target and authorities have focused on their ability to respond to armed attacks, like the ones in Paris, where gunmen and suicide bombers hit different targets simultaneously.

The U.K. said last year that it was sharply increasing the number of police officers trained to handle firearms. The vast majority of police officers are unarmed, with only specialist firearms teams permitted to carry submachine guns and pistols capable of killing a hostile suspect.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said security would be reviewed to see whether arrangements at Parliament were adequate and whether police at the front gates should be armed.

Write to Jenny Gross at jenny.gross@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-police-arrest-seven-in-response-to-attack-near-london-parliament-1490258307?mod=e2tw