The Muslim terrorist who has been held responsible for the fatal attack in London on Wednesday has been identify by British police as 52-year-old Khalid Masood. Born in southeastern England, Masood was recently living in the West Midlands, in central England, according to a statement released by police today. After carrying out an attack that claimed the lives of three innocent persons, Masood was shot to death by police outside Parliament. He had driven over and struck several persons on Westminster bridge, killing two, and on foot he stabbed a police officer to death.
 
A dramatic video recorded Masood's vehicle barreling over Westminster bridge. One of his victims, a Portuguese tourist, was thrown from the bridge by the impact of Masood's vehicle. She survived but sustained critical injuries.
Masood used several aliases and had been on the radar of authorities. However, according to police “there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.” The Islamic State proclaimed him as one of its jihadi warriors. Masood had been arrested in past for assault, possession of offensive weapons, and public order offenses. He was first charged in November 1983 for criminal damage, while his last was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
 
 
Speaking sombrely in Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May admitted that Masood was known to police and had been under investigation for links to religious extremism. “As I speak millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth,” she told the House of Commons. “It is in these actions - millions of acts of normality - that we find the best response to terrorism - a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in.”
 
A man from Utah, Kurt Cochran, who was visiting London with his wife, Melissa, for their wedding anniversary, is known to be dead. Also felled by the terrorist is a British mother of two, who was run over when Masood drove through pedestrians and cyclists on Westminster bridge. He stabbed a police officer to death before being killed in turn. At least 29 persons have been injured, among them are French school children. London attack: New info on victims and suspect
 
This was the first deadly incident at the ancient Houses of Parliament since 1979, when Conservative legislator Airey Neave was killed by Irish terrorists with a car bomb. 
 
The Islamic State declared that Masood was one its soldiers who “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition” of countries fighting Islamic terrorism in Syria and Iraq. The attack in London was reminiscent of similar attacks in France, Germany, and Israel last year. The carrying out of war against infidels is sometimes referred to as “jihad”: which is an Arabic word that relates to struggle of various forms. Islam spread throughout Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia, through warfare centuries ago. Under the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, Islam made another onslaught in the 1700s but was turned back by Austrians and Poles. 
 
The teachings of Islam offer consolation to those engaged in holy war or jihad:
 
"The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a  reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then I would not remain behind any army unit going for Jihad and I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause." Muhammad (Bukhari Book #2, Hadith #36; See also Bukhari Book #90, Hadith 332; Hadith 333)



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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