The Westminster Terrorist
March 22, 2017 is a date forever engraved in the minds of many around the world. It weighs most heavily, however, on the families of the 50 souls injured and the four souls that died because of the Westminster Terrorist and his actions outside of Parliament. At approximately 2:40 (Greenwich Mean Time), Khalid Masood plowed a stolen vehicle into innocent bystanders on the Westminster Bridge outside the Houses of Parliament in London. After the crash, Masood exited his vehicle with a knife and assaulted nearby victims. Eventually, Masood was shot dead by a close protection officer attached to the UK defense secretary.
Originally named Adrian Russell Ajao, Masood possessed a criminal record; an offense of knife possession was documented in 2003. Some of Masood’s victims included a tourist from the United States (Kurt Cochran), a British National (Aysha Frade), and PC Keith Palmer. Masood’s victims come from a variety of different countries: Romania, Greece, Germany, the Irish Republic, and China.
As of March 24, 2017, authorities arrested 11 individuals and investigated multiple locations associated with the extremist. Computer data has been taken. In the meantime, security around the Houses of Parliament has increased. A photo of Masood was also released with police pleading for information about the attacker:
Clearly a main line in our investigation is what led him to be radicalized … was it through influences in our community, influences from overseas or from online propaganda,” [Metropolitan Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark] Rowley said. “Our investigation and arrests will help in that but the public appeal will make a real difference.”
It’s of opinion that the attack could have been prevented. Two police officers man the Carriage Gate at an oft used entry point. Because the Prime Minister and other government officials often use the entrance and exit, it wasn’t bolted. It’s speculated that if the gate had been shut, Masood wouldn’t have been able to drive through the vehicle gate.
Other notable people and world leaders responded to the attack as well. President Barack Obama tweeted support for the victims:
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families in London. No act of terror can shake the strength and resilience of our British ally.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 23, 2017
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, responded to the attack by saying, “Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack in London and their families.”
Current United States leader, President Donald Trump, spoke to the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, on the phone. Trump is reported to have offered the United States assistance in responding to the attack and bringing the perpetrator(s) to justice. He also offered condolences over Twitter to the family of the US citizen who visited England and was killed in the attack.
This attack marked the anniversary of the Brussels airport bombing one year ago. In a time of what seems like hopelessness, Theresa May offered words of hope:
We will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”