UK Parliament attacker was Muslim convert with violent past

Last Updated 24 March 2017, 12:40 IST

The man who launched a terror attack on UK Parliament has been identified by police as 52-year-old former convict Adrian Russell Ajao who acquired the name Khalid Masood upon conversion to Islam.

Scotland Yard Acting Deputy Commissioner and Counter- Terrorism chief Mark Rowley today revealed that the "fast-paced" counter-terrorism operation to establish Masood's "motivation, preparation and his associates" has been titled 'Operation Classific'.

"The Counter Terrorism Command investigation - Operation Classific - continues, involving hundreds of officers from across the counter terrorism network… we named the dead terrorist as Khalid Masood – we stated he had a number of aliases – we now know his birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao," he said.

In his appeal to the public, he added: "We remain keen to hear from anyone who knew Khalid Masood well; understands who his associates were; and can provide with information about places he has recently visited.

"There might well be people out there who did have concerns about Masood but weren't sure or didn't feel comfortable for whatever reason in passing information to us. The appeal came as a picture emerges of an English schoolboy, born to a white mother and black father, with a history of violent knife crime," he said.

In July 2000, he slashed a man across the face after an argument that the court at the time was told "racial overtones".

Hove Crown Court also heard during the trial that the attack had left Masood and his young family "ostracised" in the village of Northiam in Sussex, south-east England.

Judge Charles Kemp had sentenced him to a total of two years in prison.

Some reports suggest that it is likely he was radicalised during his spell in jail.

The night before Masood went on to ram his hired car at high speed into the side of the House of Commons railings before stabbing to death a police officer guarding the Parliament gates, he stayed at the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton.

"He was a friendly, normal guest. It has been very stressful to see what happened," said the owner of the hotel.

Masood was born on Christmas Day in 1964 in Kent, south-east England, and was brought up by a single mother in the seaside town of Rye, East Sussex, before a religious conversion in later years.

After Masood was shot dead during the attack, Islamic State (ISIS) hailed him as one of its "soldiers" but the exact nature of his ISIS connection remains unclear. 

Media reports indicate he recently became a grandfather, after neighbours said that the daughter of his wife had just had a baby.

Records suggest that Masood, who had given his occupation as an English tutor on several forms over the years, was married to a 39-year-old woman named Rohey Hydara, who lives in east London.

Her flat was one of the sites searched by Metropolitan Police officers as part of their investigation.

Masood's mother, Janet Ajao, was tracked down to a remote farmhouse in Wales by 'The Sun', where she lives with her husband Philip – Masood’s stepfather – and their dog.

The 69-year-old runs a business, selling the textile goods she sews.

In a CV obtained by the newspaper, Masood describes himself as "British", "friendly and approachable" and a good listener.

He had worked in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and then at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Jeddah in the past.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had told the House of Commons yesterday that the terrorist suspect had been a "peripheral" figure in a previous security services investigation but had not been part of any "current intelligence picture".

He is understood to have been investigated by MI5 over violent extremism several years ago but was considered a low priority.

Scotland Yard said "there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack". 

(Published 24 March 2017, 12:40 IST)

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