LONDON Before he killed at least four people in Britain’s deadliest attack since the 2005 London bombings, Khalid Masood was considered by intelligence officers to be a criminal who posed little serious threat.A British-born convert to Islam, Masood had shown up on the periphery of previous terrorism investigations that brought him to the attention of Britain’s MI5 spy agency.But the 52-year-old was not under investigation when he sped across Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, plowing down pedestrians with a hired car before running into the parliamentary grounds and fatally stabbing an unarmed policeman. He was shot dead by police.Although some of those he was involved with included people suspected of being keen to travel to join jihadi groups overseas, Masood “himself never did so,” said a U.S. government source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.Britain’s senior counter-terrorism police officer, Mark Rowley, told reporters: “Our investigation focuses on understanding his motivation, his operation and his associates.”Islamic State claimed responsibility for Masood’s attack, although it was unclear what links if any he had with the militant group. Police said there had been no prior intelligence about his intent to mount an attack. Police said Masood had never been convicted of a terrorism offense. His first conviction was in 1983 for criminal damage and his last one was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.During five minutes of mayhem in the heart of London on Wednesday, Masood sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, plowing into pedestrians. He then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead.Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into the attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology. The bloodshed in London took place on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels, and resembled Islamic State-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.The casualties included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Chinese, one American and two Greeks, May said. Keith Palmer was the 48-year-old policeman stabbed by Masood.”He will be deeply missed. We love him so much,” Palmer’s family said in a statement. He was married with a 5-year-old daughter.American tourist Kurt Cochran of Utah was also named as one of the dead. Cochran’s wife, Melissa Payne Cochran, was still recovering from a broken leg and rib and a cut on her head. The Cochrans were there visiting missionary family members.As investigators look for the why in Masood’s violence, they’ve gotten few answers so far. He was from Birmingham, one of the hotbeds for British Islamists. According to a study by the Henry Jackson think-tank earlier this month, 39 of 269 people convicted in Britain of terrorism offenses from 1998 to 2015 came from the city.There are more than 213,000 Muslims in Birmingham, more than a fifth of the population, according to the 2011 census, and there has been growing concern about divisions in the diverse city.
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