London terrorist, Khalid Masood, was a convert to Islam with a multi-decade criminal past, including multiple convictions for violent offenses.
Masood was 53-years-old when he plowed his car through a throng of people on Westminster bridge in London Wednesday, and then stabbed a police officer. He killed four and injured dozens of others. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Masood a “soldier of the caliphate.”
Masood was first convicted of a crime at age 18, but his first violent offenses began in 2000. Masood slashed a man’s face in a pub after an argument involving “racial undertones.” After his release from prison two years later, he again stabbed a man in the nose before traveling to Saudi Arabia.
Masood lived in Saudi Arabia until 2009, where he married a Muslim woman. Masood’s violent criminal past, conversion to Islam, and travel to the field of Jihad are characteristic of a Western terrorist. “He wore a skull cap and had a long bushy beard,” residents of Masood’s neighborhood told British media.
Media in the U.K. speculate that Masood may have converted to Islam in prison after one of his many bouts in prison. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed in a Wednesday speech to Parliament that Masood was a known quantity to British intelligence services and was “once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism.”
May elaborated the Masood was not part of an active terror investigation, and that no current intelligence indicated his plot to carry out the attack. U.K. police arrested eight individuals in late-night raids after the attack in two different cities, possibly indicating that Masood was part of a larger terror network.
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