No evidence have been found between Khalid Masood and radical Islamist groups such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda, according to police investigating the Westminster attack.
New info from investigation:
The fast-moving investigation revealed more details such as Masood’s use of encrypted messaging service WhatsApp which now forms a “main line of enquiry”. Also, the theory that Masood was radicalized during a spell in prison is doubted by detectives. These revelations contradict earlier reports.
ISIS claimed responsibility one day after the attack and called Masood “a soldier of the Islamic State”. However, the group has previously claimed attacks without any proof of its involvement which cast skepticism over the claims.
However, according to the Met’s senior national coordinator for UK counter-terrorism policing, Massood could have been inspired by the violent extremist groups responsible for massacres in other European cities but he refuted that they were directly involved in the attack.
Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner, said: “His attack method appears to be based on low sophistication, low tech, and low cost techniques copied from other attacks, and echo the rhetoric of ISIS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians, but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others. Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with ISIS or AQ [al-Qaeda], there is clearly an interest in Jihad.”
Masood used a rented Hyundai as a weapon after he mounted the pavement and drove the vehicle into tourists and Londoners crossing the bridge. He crashed it into the fence surrounding Parliament then ran into the grounds of the Palace of Westminster and stabbed a police officer.
The car Masood used in the attack had been seen in the area before the attack, according to investigation. The BBC reported that it was spotted either on the day of the attack or at some point in the days leading up to it.
The reason is still not known but it’s speculated that Masood carried out a scoping mission before he launched the fatal attack.
This weekend a debate was triggered over authorities’ ability to intercept communications as part of national security investigations after it was revealed that Masood’s phone connected with WhatsApp just before the attack.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said there should be “no place for terrorists to hide”. Police confirmed that Masood’s use of the messaging service is a key element of the investigation which gave greater urgency to her call for more powers.
The counter-terror chief confirmed that Masood’s last criminal offence was carried out in 2003, and that he was not “part of the current domestic or international threat picture.” He also discussed claims that Masood was indoctrinated with extremist ideology while he was behind bars.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Basu said: “There is no evidence that Masood was radicalised in prison in 2003, as has been suggested; this is pure speculation at this time. Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with Isis or AQ, there is clearly an interest in Jihad.”
A 30-year-old man in Birmingham was arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts on Sunday. He and a 58-year-old man arrested last Thursday remain in custody.
On Friday a 32-year-old woman was detained but has been bailed until later this month, and nine people who were arrested last week have since been released without charge.