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UK police: London attacker acted alone, motive may remain a mystery

Counterterrorism officials say attack by Khalid Masood at parliament building that killed four lasted 82 seconds

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

In this March 22, 2017 photo, Khalid Masood is treated by emergency services after a fatal attack outside the Houses of Parliament, London. British Police named Masood on March 23, 2017, as the terrorist who carried out the attack. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP).
In this March 22, 2017 photo, Khalid Masood is treated by emergency services after a fatal attack outside the Houses of Parliament, London. British Police named Masood on March 23, 2017, as the terrorist who carried out the attack. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP).

The terrorist who killed four people outside the British Parliament building last week acted alone and his motives may never be known, UK police said.

In a statement late Saturday, the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command revealed that 82 seconds passed from the moment on March 22 when Khalid Masood rammed his car into pedestrians and then exited the vehicle to attack police with a knife, until the moment he was shot dead by officers.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said that even if Masood acted alone, those who may have incited him to commit the crime will be tracked down.

“We still believe that Masood acted alone on the day and there is no information or intelligence to suggest there are further attacks planned.

“Even if he acted alone in the preparation we need to establish with absolute clarity why he did these unspeakable acts, to bring reassurance to Londoners and to provide answers and closure for the families of those killed and the victims and survivors of this atrocity.

“We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him.

“Nevertheless, we are determined to understand if Masood was a lone actor inspired by terrorist propaganda or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him. If the latter proves to be the case, they will face justice,” Basu said.

This is an undated photo released by the Metropolitan Police of Khalid Masood. Authorities identified Masood, a 52-year-old Briton, as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list. (Metropolitan Police via AP)
This is an undated photo released by the Metropolitan Police of Khalid Masood. Authorities identified Masood, a 52-year-old Briton, as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list. (Metropolitan Police via AP)

Police said 40 people were injured after Masood, a 52-year-old Briton with a history of violent offenses, plowed a car along a pavement on a bridge before stabbing a police officer outside the parliament.

According to a police timeline of the incident, Masood started his assault at 2:40:08 p.m. The first call to the police 999 emergency phone line was received 52 seconds later.

“Whilst the attack lasted only 82 seconds it will remain in the memories of many forever. The thoughts of all those working on this investigation are with those so deeply affected.

“Terrorists have tried to tear this City apart before and they have never succeeded. A very small minority of people have tried to use this as an opportunity to stir up hate, but once again we stand together in calm defiance. We will not allow them to divide us,” the statement said.

Earlier on Saturday police said they had released a man arrested over the terror attack, leaving just one suspect in custody.

A total of 11 people were held on suspicion of preparation of terrorist attacks in the wake of Wednesday’s rampage at Westminster.

Only a 58-year-old man arrested on Thursday in Birmingham, the central English city where the assailant Khalid Masood lived, remained in custody on Saturday evening.

The police officer killed has been named as 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a husband and father who was part of the parliamentary protection force.

Basu appealed to the public to come forward with any information about Massod.

“Our investigation continues at pace. I am grateful for the public support so far, but I am asking for more help.

“If you knew Khalid Masood and had spoken to him in the months, weeks or days leading up to this attack please come forward.”

The Islamic State group claimed one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack, the worst in Britain since the July 2005 bombings that left 52 people dead.

AFP contributed to this report.

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