An armed public could have prevented this disaster.
LONDON — British police on Thursday identified the lone attacker
accused of carrying out a deadly knife and vehicle rampage as
Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man who had a criminal
record but was not suspected of plotting to “mount a terrorist
In a statement, Scotland Yard said Masood was not the subject of
any current investigations and had not been convicted of any
terrorism offenses before police say he unleashed Wednesday’s
The attack left three people dead in central London — an
American man and British woman mowed down by his SUV on the
Westminster Bridge and a police officer stabbed outside
Parliament — before the suspect was fatally shot by police. At
least 29 people were injured, seven of them critically.
[What we know about the victims of the London terrorist attack]
Scotland Yard said Masood was “known to police” and had a range
of previous convictions for assaults, possession of offensive
weapons and public order offenses. His last conviction was in
December 2003 for possession of a knife.
“There was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a
terrorist attack,” Scotland Yard said, but it gave no other
details about Masood or his family background.
Earlier Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the
attacker was once investigated by Britain’s MI5 security service
for possible extremist links but was “not part of the current
May did not name the assailant in her remarks, but she offered
new details about past scrutiny by authorities, who described
the London attacks as “inspired by international terrorism.”
Shortly after May spoke, the Islamic State-linked news site Amaq
carried a statement calling the attacker a “soldier” of the
group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. British authorities have
announced no links between the suspect and the Islamic State,
but the militant group has often independently asserted ties to
various attacks around the world.
[When ISIS claims terrorist attacks, it’s worth reading closely]
Across the English Channel in Antwerp, Belgium, authorities were
placed on high alert after a man tried to drive a car carrying
weapons, including a gun, into a pedestrian zone.
Belgian police said the car, with French license plates, sped
onto the street, forcing people to jump out of the way. Belgian
federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sijpt identified the driver as a
French citizen, Mohamed R., 39, and said a long knife, a gun and
a container containing an as-yet-unidentified substance were
found in the trunk. Further details were not immediately
available, but the case was referred to Belgian federal
prosecutors — whose cases include militant attacks or threats.
In her statement to the House of Commons, May said that the
assailant was born in Britain and was investigated by security
services “some years ago .?.?. in relation to concerns about
“He was a peripheral figure,” she added. “The case was historic.
He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was
no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot. Intensive
British media reported that Masood rented the Hyundai i40 used
in the attack from a rental company in Birmingham, Britain’s
Meanwhile, police held at least eight people after sweeps in
London and Birmingham linked to the investigation. About a mile
away from the rental company in Birmingham, police guarded the
entrance to the apartment building where one of the raids took
In London, Mark Rowley, the acting deputy police commissioner,
said 29 people injured in Wednesday’s attack were being treated
in hospitals and that seven were in critical condition.
“At this stage, we have no specific information about further
threats to the public,” he said.
A minute’s silence was observed in Parliament, Scotland Yard and
London’s City Hall to honor the lives lost in the attack. The
observance took place at 9:33 a.m. in tribute to slain police
officer Keith Palmer, who wore the shoulder number 933 on his
[Trump’s son slams London mayor. The backlash is fierce.]
Queen Elizabeth II, who was due to open the new Scotland Yard
building Thursday but postponed the ceremony, said that her
“thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with all those who
have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence.”
The attack — which unfolded around some of London’s most famous
landmarks — carried hallmarks of strikes last year in Nice and
Berlin, where vehicles were used as tools of terrorism.
The assailant first plowed the Hyundai SUV through terrified
pedestrians along the bridge, killing at least two people: Aysha
Frade, a 43-year-old mother of two, who was reportedly walking
on Westminster Bridge on her way to pick up her children; and a
man from Utah, Kurt Cochran, who was in London with his wife,
Melissa, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
On Facebook, the wife’s sister said Cochran died of his
injuries, while Melissa had several broken bones. “While we are
glad she survived, our hearts are broken and will never be the
same after losing our dear uncle, brother-in-law, father,”
Melissa’s sister wrote. “Kurt, you are a HERO, and we will never
[‘Our family is heartbroken’: American killed in London attack
was celebrating wedding anniversary]
In a statement released through the Mormon church, the Cochran
family said that the couple had been in London for an
anniversary trip and had been scheduled to return to the United
States on Thursday.
In a Twitter post, President Trump shared “prayers and
condolences” with Cochran’s family and friends.
The injured represented a wide range of nationalities: 12
Britons, three French schoolchildren, two Romanians, four South
Koreans, two Greeks, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one
Chinese, one Italian and one American.
One Romanian woman who was walking along Westminster Bridge
plunged into the Thames, but was pulled alive from the river.
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said the international
scope of the casualties “goes to show, an attack on London is an
attack on the world.”
“Our houses in Parliament have been attacked for centuries, by
all kinds of people,” Johnson told reporters at the United
Nations. “But their ideals — freedom, democracy, the equality of
human beings under law — are stronger than any adversary, and
they will prevail.”
[This British MP desperately tried to save the dying police
After crossing the bridge, the attacker rammed his vehicle into
the fence encircling Parliament and charged with a knife at
officers stationed at the iron gates leading to the Parliament
grounds. He killed one officer and injured three others before
he was shot and killed by police.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increasing number of terrorist
attacks in the West which use unsophisticated methods,” said
Shiraz Maher, deputy director of International Center for the
Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.
“These are plots that are very easy to construct, require little
money, planning, and expertise, but which are nonetheless highly
effective in causing death and destruction,” he added.
Amid the attack probe, tributes poured in for Palmer, the
officer who was fatally stabbed, a 48-year-old husband and
father who was unarmed at the time of the attack.
“He was a strong, professional public servant,” lawmaker James
Cleverly said in an emotional speech in Parliament.
Lawmakers also acknowledged Tobias Ellwood, a senior official at
Britain’s Foreign Office, who tried in vain to save Palmer’s
Michael Fallon, Britain’s defense secretary, said security
arrangements at Parliament, which has a mix of armed and unarmed
officers, would now be reviewed. But he stressed that
“Parliament cannot be hermetically sealed.”
[In Europe, terror fears are now fact of life]
The attack occurred on Parliament’s busiest day of the week,
when the prime minister appears for her weekly questions session
and the House of Commons is packed with visitors.
The Palace of Westminster, the ancient seat of the British
Parliament, is surrounded by heavy security, with high walls,
armed officers and metal detectors. But just outside the
compound are busy roads packed with cars and pedestrians.
British security officials have taken pride in their record of
disrupting such attacks even as assailants in continental Europe
have slipped through. On Thursday, May said that since June
2013, police and intelligence services have disrupted 13
terrorist plots in Britain.