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Reference Library – England

Last message left by Westminster attacker Khalid Masood …

The last message left by the killer Khalid Masood1 on the WhatsApp2 messaging service, revealing his motivation for the lethal attack in Westminster, has been uncovered by the security agencies, The Independent has learnt. In the message, sent just minutes3 before he began the rampage in which five people died and 50 were injured, the 52-year-old Muslim convert had declared that he was waging jihad in revenge against Western military action in Muslim countries in the Middle East. The person who received the message has been extensively questioned, but freed after the police and MI5 concluded that he was not part of a plot and had no prior knowledge of what was unfolding on 22 March.

Eleven others detained following the attack were freed and have been cleared from inquiries. The continuing threat in centre of the capital and heart of the government was highlighted just today with the arrest of a man allegedly carrying what was described as rucksack of knives close to the Treasury. The suspect was taken away by armed police; no one was injured during the incident.

The accessing of Masood s message was achieved by what has been described by security sources as a use of human and technical intelligence . Details of the method used cannot be disclosed for security reasons, but sources said they now have the technical expertise to repeat the process in future. It was made possible because Masood s mobile telephone was recovered after he was shot dead.

Discovering Masood s last recorded thoughts was the key part of the investigation into what lay behind the assault which started with him mowing down people on the road with a rented car and then stabbing a police officer, Keith Palmer, dead on the grounds of the House of Commons. Scotland Yard stated at the outset that his communications on the day of the attack was the main line of inquiry. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu stressed in an appeal: If you heard from him on 22 March, please come forward now . The information you have may prove important to establishing his state of mind.

There was initial thought among investigators that Masood may have been in contact with someone involved in a plotting his attack. There have been repeated recent atrocities two in France and two in Germany just in the past year in which terrorists were found to have been guided through messaging service by Isis handlers just before they struck. Isis had claimed credit for the Westminster attack, but no evidence has emerged to back this up.

Masood, who was born in Kent, had come to the notice of the security service for being on the fringes of Islamist extremism in the past, but he was not seen as a threat. It is suspected that he may have been radicalised during spells in prison in this country and three trips to Saudi Arabia . But it is not known at what point he decided to turn to violence. Investigators have established that he carried out a reconnaissance journey to central London four days before the attack; he did not discuss the trip with anyone else.

Met Police announce that terror perpetrator Khalid Masood was born Adrian Russell

It is unclear when Home Secretary Amber Rudd was made aware that Masood s WhatsApp message had been retrieved. She complained soon after the killings that the law agencies had been unable to access Masood s words because of the use of encryption by the technology company. She said: It s completely unacceptable .

There should be no place for terrorists to hide . We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other. The Home Secretary subsequently urged, at a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels, swift action to tackle online access for terrorists and held a meeting later that week in London with technology companies on the same issue.

The secrecy provided to users by social media companies has become a contentious issue after a series of cases in which the sites were used by terrorists and their accomplices. Michael Adebowale, one of the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, had used Facebook to describe in a graphic way how he wanted to kill a soldier, but Facebook failed to pass this on to the authorities. Following criticism from the parliamentary intelligence and security committee a spokesman for Facebook said they do not allow terrorist content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes .

Families of victims of terrorism in Brussels, Paris and California are taking legal actions in American courts against Twitter and Facebook claiming that the companies had failed to stop violent extremists from using their platforms.

But civil liberties campaigners, social media firms and technology analysts hold that measures like encryption were essential not just to prevent unwarranted state prying into lives of people but also to ensure that hackers and criminals are prevented from gaining access to personal information.

Last Message Left By Westminster Attacker Khalid Masood ...Reuse content4

References

  1. ^ Khalid Masood (www.independent.co.uk)
  2. ^ WhatsApp (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ sent just minutes (www.independent.co.uk)
  4. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

Last message left by Westminster attacker Khalid Masood uncovered by security agencies

The last message left by the killer Khalid Masood1 on the WhatsApp2 messaging service, revealing his motivation for the lethal attack in Westminster, has been uncovered by the security agencies, The Independent has learnt. In the message, sent just minutes3 before he began the rampage in which five people died and 50 were injured, the 52-year-old Muslim convert had declared that he was waging jihad in revenge against Western military action in Muslim countries in the Middle East. The person who received the message has been extensively questioned, but freed after the police and MI5 concluded that he was not part of a plot and had no prior knowledge of what was unfolding on 22 March.

Eleven others detained following the attack were freed and have been cleared from inquiries. The continuing threat in centre of the capital and heart of the government was highlighted just today with the arrest of a man allegedly carrying what was described as rucksack of knives close to the Treasury. The suspect was taken away by armed police; no one was injured during the incident.

The accessing of Masood s message was achieved by what has been described by security sources as a use of human and technical intelligence . Details of the method used cannot be disclosed for security reasons, but sources said they now have the technical expertise to repeat the process in future. It was made possible because Masood s mobile telephone was recovered after he was shot dead.

Discovering Masood s last recorded thoughts was the key part of the investigation into what lay behind the assault which started with him mowing down people on the road with a rented car and then stabbing a police officer, Keith Palmer, dead on the grounds of the House of Commons. Scotland Yard stated at the outset that his communications on the day of the attack was the main line of inquiry. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu stressed in an appeal: If you heard from him on 22 March, please come forward now . The information you have may prove important to establishing his state of mind.

There was initial thought among investigators that Masood may have been in contact with someone involved in a plotting his attack. There have been repeated recent atrocities two in France and two in Germany just in the past year in which terrorists were found to have been guided through messaging service by Isis handlers just before they struck. Isis had claimed credit for the Westminster attack, but no evidence has emerged to back this up.

Masood, who was born in Kent, had come to the notice of the security service for being on the fringes of Islamist extremism in the past, but he was not seen as a threat. It is suspected that he may have been radicalised during spells in prison in this country and three trips to Saudi Arabia . But it is not known at what point he decided to turn to violence. Investigators have established that he carried out a reconnaissance journey to central London four days before the attack; he did not discuss the trip with anyone else.

Met Police announce that terror perpetrator Khalid Masood was born Adrian Russell

It is unclear when Home Secretary Amber Rudd was made aware that Masood s WhatsApp message had been retrieved. She complained soon after the killings that the law agencies had been unable to access Masood s words because of the use of encryption by the technology company. She said: It s completely unacceptable .

There should be no place for terrorists to hide . We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other. The Home Secretary subsequently urged, at a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels, swift action to tackle online access for terrorists and held a meeting later that week in London with technology companies on the same issue.

The secrecy provided to users by social media companies has become a contentious issue after a series of cases in which the sites were used by terrorists and their accomplices. Michael Adebowale, one of the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, had used Facebook to describe in a graphic way how he wanted to kill a soldier, but Facebook failed to pass this on to the authorities. Following criticism from the parliamentary intelligence and security committee a spokesman for Facebook said they do not allow terrorist content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes .

Families of victims of terrorism in Brussels, Paris and California are taking legal actions in American courts against Twitter and Facebook claiming that the companies had failed to stop violent extremists from using their platforms.

But civil liberties campaigners, social media firms and technology analysts hold that measures like encryption were essential not just to prevent unwarranted state prying into lives of people but also to ensure that hackers and criminals are prevented from gaining access to personal information.

Last Message Left By Westminster Attacker Khalid Masood Uncovered By Security AgenciesReuse content4

References

  1. ^ Khalid Masood (www.independent.co.uk)
  2. ^ WhatsApp (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ sent just minutes (www.independent.co.uk)
  4. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

Election candidates warned of security risks

Most candidates running in the General Election will have little in the way of enhanced protection during the campaign unless they raise specific concerns with the police, security sources have told Sky News. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) says it is writing to all of the country’s MPs and setting out crucial security advice and guidance in the run-up to 8 June. Although there is no direct intelligence of election-related threats, there is an increasing sense of nervousness among authorities in the wake of the terror attack in Westminster and last week’s shooting of police officers in Paris ahead of the French presidential elections. The NPCC, which represents all 43 police forces in England and Wales, said: “Where particular concerns are raised local police will work with constituency offices to review security and put in place appropriate measures.

“This vigilance message applies to all of the candidates and their team members who will be out campaigning over the coming weeks.”

Image: Dr Lisa Cameron MP says she is taking ‘sensible precautions’ after receiving death threats

Security surrounding the Prime Minister and other senior political figures has been visibly enhanced since the Westminster attack. Theresa May has signalled her determination to join the campaign trail and canvass in local communities. Although this brings extra risks, the Prime Minister will at least have added protection . Most other candidates will not. The MP for East Kilbride, Lisa Cameron, was subjected to death threats last year . She said they had spurred her into making sure she and her colleagues take “sensible precautions” as they begin their campaigns.

“There are vulnerabilities and you have to be able to be aware and acknowledge that, once you’ve got that insight you can be aware of risk management,” she said. “Given the incidents that have occurred, those types of interactions are going to have to be done in a way to minimise risk . You can’t totally eradicate risk but it should never stop MPs or candidates engaging with constituents.”

The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency last year led to a reappraisal of security. Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, has also suffered death threats in the past year – and said there was always an element of risk in an open democracy but that extremists should not be allowed to win. She said: “We have been given extra advice on carrying lone worker devices when we are out and about, and yes, that risk increases when we are out in the constituency. “One of the things about democracy is about being in touch directly with people.”

Former Scotland Yard firearms officer Roger Gray said the recent events in Westminster and Paris will certainly have focused the minds of the police and security officials as the UK’s election gets under way. He added: “What we saw just a few weeks ago was dreadful but it’s very difficult to calculate for . One thing we do have in the run-up to the election is heightened awareness, so if something happens it won’t be a complete bolt from the blue as that was . And the public will be vital in helping the authorities track any potential risk.”

Chief constables are currently liaising with politicians who have had threats in the past, and all candidates are being urged to ensure police know about their planned events.