The London Metropolitan Police on Thursday identified the man they believe is responsible for the terror attack in Westminster as Khalid Masood. The 52-year-old man was born in the U.K. and had a criminal record, but British security services had “no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.”
A statement from the police said Masood was born on Christmas Day 1964 in Kent and it is understood that he lived most recently in Quayside, Birmingham. He is thought to have been married with children and worked as an English teacher.
Masood was known to have a number of aliases — one of which is thought to be Khalid Choudry — and he had a range of previous convictions, including for grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons, and public order offences.
His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his latest conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
The authorities held back from releasing Masood’s name while they conducted raids at six addresses in London and Birmingham overnight, arresting eight people in connection with the investigation.
Masood was killed by an armed police officer on the grounds of parliament after fatally stabbing unarmed policeman Keith Palmer. Masood had previously driven a hired car across Westminster Bridge and ploughed into pedestrians, killing two and injuring 29.
Speaking to the Guardian, a neighbour of Masood, Iwona Romek, described the attacker as a father who was a keen gardener and lived with his wife and young child. “I have been so shocked by it all,” Romek said. “They were a nice family, very reserved. He was very calm. I saw the photos on the TV and knew it was the man who lived here. He had a wife, a young Asian woman, and a small child who went to school.”
Another neighbour told Buzzfeed that Masood moved out in December. “I never really spoke to him. I didn’t know his name before. He had a little boy who was five years old. There was a woman, I didn’t know if it was his wife or daughter. We’d just say hello in the street.”
Earlier on Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament that the attacker “acted alone,” and said there was no reason to believe there would be imminent further attacks. The suspect had been investigated by MI5 “some years ago” for violent extremism, but, May added, “he was a peripheral figure. The case is historic and he was not part of the current intelligence picture.”
The West Midlands has a well-documented issue with radicalization – a report published this month by the Henry Jackson Society society found that one in 10 of all of Britain’s Islamist terrorists came from just five council wards in Birmingham.