The UK was on alert. Metropolitan Police chief said on the day of the terror attack that struck Westminster, “This is a day we’ve planned for but we hoped will never happen. Sadly, it is now a reality.” The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had issued threats to the United Kingdom in November 2015 after the Paris attacks, naming the UK as its next target.
Wednesday afternoon saw an unprecedented deadly attack that left five dead including a police man guarding the Parliament building, a mother of two who was picking her kids up, an American who was serving as a missionary in London, a 75 year old man and the attacker himself who was shot dead by MP Michael Fallon’s bodyguard.
Barely a day after the attack, ISIL claimed responsibility in a statement that read, “The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition“.
So now that we know the attacker was a soldier for the Islamic State, what else is there to know about the lone attacker?
His name is Khalid Masood. New name, that is. Masood was named Adrian Russell at birth and gained the other surname, Ajao at age 2 when his mum got married to his stepdad, Phillip Ajao. Born in Dartford, Adrian Russell Ajao was 52 years old at the time of his death on Wednesday. Conflicting newspaper reports have it that he had three kids while others claim he was a father of one, well according to his neighbours.
What more did Masood’s neighbours have to say about him?
Apparently, he had lived in a number of addresses in London and Birmingham. Some of his old neighbours in Birmingham who spoke to the press said he had a “split personality“. The couple, Anna Goras and Seb Bednarczyk, said, “his face would change in a moment and his eyes would go hard and look evil” when he discussed religion. Masood had issues with schools in the UK and advised the Catholic couple to take their kids to Muslim schools as he opined that British schools were poor standard. The couple said Masood never saw his wife without a veil, hardly let his children play outdoor but gave their own kids lifts back from school. Another former neighbour said he was the typical guy next door who liked to tend to his garden. They never really saw him as a threat.
Khalid Masood was hardly a threat to his neighbours, they knew nothing of his criminal record. Scotland Yard had him in record for stabbing a man in the nose in Eastbourne in 2003. He was charged for causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), possession of a deadly weapon and other public order offences. His criminal career spanned 20 years, from 1983 when he was only 18 to 2003.
Masood worked in sales at Aaron Chemicals in Bodiam, East Sussex for 12 years. In 2005, he moved to Saudi Arabia where he taught English to workers at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Jeddah. Speculations have it that it was at his time working in Saudi Arabia that he got radicalised. They say he must have fallen under the spell of Wahhabi preachers who promote “a hardline strain of Islam, branded the main source of global terrorism by the European Parliament”.
Moving back to the UK in 2009, Masood started work as a senior English teacher in a TEFL college in Luton. He went on to quit this job in 2012 and became his own boss by setting up an Englush Language tutoring business for Arabian students in Birmingham. He called it IQRA.
Masood was also known as a gym fanatic, one of his former neighbours described him as a “big guy”.
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