In Brief

Khalid Masood: Police unlock Westminster attacker's final text

WhatsApp message reveals fatal assault was revenge for the west's action in the Middle East


Scotland Yard has retrieved the final WhatsApp message sent by Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood minutes before he began his deadly attack in which five people, including a police officer, were killed.

An exclusive by The Independent reveals detectives have managed to circumvent the app's end-to-end encryption technology, which "locks" each end of a message so it can only be accessed with a code.

In the message, Masood declared he was waging jihad in revenge for western military action in Muslim countries in the Middle East.

The recipient has been "extensively questioned", the Independent says, but police are satisfied he or she was not involved in the attack and had no prior knowledge of Masood's intentions.

Masood sent his message minutes before he ploughed a car into pedestrians crossing Westminster Bridge, injuring dozens.

Spanish teacher Aysha Frade and US tourist Kurt Cochran were declared dead soon after, while two others – London window cleaner Leslie Rhodes and Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea - later succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Masood then left the vehicle and entered the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, where he attacked and fatally stabbed PC Keith Palmer before being shot dead by security personnel.

Police would not detail the method used to crack the messages, but a source told the Independent detectives were confident they could repeat the technique for similar cases in the future.

The ethics of how police and intelligence services should interact with messaging services which offer end-to-end encryption became a headline debate following the attack.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was "completely unacceptable" for officials to be locked out of potentially crucial messages and refused to rule out legislation to ban such encryption, The Guardian said.

However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined civil liberties groups to argue that forcing companies to reveal users' private data would undermine democratic freedoms.

Westminster attack: Romanian tourist was 'knocked into Thames'

13 April 

A Romanian tourist who was killed in the Westminster terror attack was "knocked" into the Thames by a car being driven by Khalid Masood, an inquest heard.

Andreea Cristea, 31, died on April 6, two weeks after the attack, after her life support machine was turned off.

Early reports suggested her fall, which was captured by a distant CCTV camera, was an attempt to save herself from the oncoming vehicle but this was incorrect, Detective Superintendent John Crossley told the hearing.

Cristea was visiting London with her boyfriend Andrei Burnaz when the pair were caught up in the 22 March attack on pedestrians.

She was pulled from the river and rushed to hospital with serious injuries including a blood clot in her brain.

Burnaz, who suffered a broken foot, has since been discharged from hospital. He did not attend the inquest yesterday.

Masood killed three other people on Westminster Bridge before stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster.

Another 35 or more victims were injured by the car. One victim is still in a coma with extensive injuries.

As well as Cristea and Palmer, the dead were American tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, and Aysha Frade, 44, who was on her way to pick her children up from school.

Yesterday, coroner's officer Eric Sword said Cristea died of multiple organ failure, head injuries and "immersion" after entering the Thames. She suffered "extensive brain injuries", he said.

Staff on the Millennium Diamond cruise boat saw Cristea floating in the water and used a boat hook to catch her clothing. She was then picked up by a rescue boat and taken to the Royal London Hospital before being transferred to St Bartholomew's Hospital.

On Monday thousands of police officers paid tribute to PC Palmer, lining the central London route of his funeral cortege with their heads bowed.

Palmer, 48, was an unarmed member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command. He was guarding one of the entrances to Parliament when he was attacked by Masood. His funeral was attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Westminster attack: PC Keith Palmer honoured with full police funeral

10 April

A full police funeral for the officer who was killed during the Westminster attack last month takes place in London today.

Keith Palmer, 48, was fatally stabbed in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster on 22 March by Khalid Masood.

Yesterday, his coffin was accompanied to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster by a ceremonial police escort, "a rare honour usually reserved for heads of state," says The Guardian.

A "full force" funeral cortege will today proceed across Lambeth Bridge to Southwark Cathedral.

 It will be accompanied by a "black escort" of mounted police, a tradition for officers killed in the line of duty.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people are expected to line the route in tribute to Palmer and as a show of support for his wife Michelle and their five-year-old daughter Amy.

More than 5,000 police officers from across the country are also making their way to Southwark Cathedral, reports the London Evening Standard, which is thought to represent the largest gathering of police in UK history.

Train companies including Virgin, CrossCountry, Northern, Great Western Railway and South West Trains are offering free travel to officers heading to the ceremony, which will also be attended by the new Metropolitan Police chief commissioner Cressida Dick, on her first day in the new role.

There are plans to erect a permanent memorial to Palmer at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Westminster attack victim dies two weeks after falling into Thames

7 April 

Andreea Cristea plunged into river as Khalid Masood drove through crowds on Westminster Bridge

A Romanian tourist who fell into the River Thames during the Westminster terror attack has died from her injuries.

Andreea Cristea, 31, who was pulled from the river after Khalid Masood drove into crowds on Westminster Bridge on 22 March, had her life support turned off at St Bartholomew's Hospital on Thursday.

Her family said: "After fighting for her life over two weeks, our beloved and irreplaceable Andreea - wonderful daughter, sister, partner, dedicated friend and the most unique and life loving person you can imagine - was cruelly and brutally ripped away from our lives in the most heartless and spiritless way.

"She will always be remembered as our shining ray of light that will forever keep on shining in our hearts."

They continued: "There are no words to even begin to describe the crushing pain and emptiness that is left in our hearts."

The family plan to donate the money raised for her recovery to charity, reports Sky News.

Cristea had been on holiday with her boyfriend, Andrei Burnaz, who had planned to propose on their day out.

Burnaz suffered a broken foot in the attack and attended last week's vigil on Westminster Bridge in a wheelchair. He left a rose at the scene.

She is fourth victim of the attack. US tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, and Spanish teacher Aysha Frade, 44, also died after being struck on the bridge, while PC Keith Palmer, 48, was stabbed to death outside the Houses of Parliament.

Masood was shot dead by armed police.

Kate Middleton and Princes William and Harry lead Westminster 'service of hope'

5 April

Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Harry today joined the families of the victims of the Westminster terror attack for a multi-faith "service of hope" at Westminster Abbey in London.

Around 2,000 people are believed to have attended the invitation-only event, which took place exactly two weeks after Khalid Masood ploughed a car along Westminster Bridge and then stabbed to death PC Keith Palmer, 48, outside the Houses of Parliament.

Masood's other victims were Aysha Frade, 44, who worked at a sixth-form college, tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, from Utah and retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75.

Today's service, led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend John Hall, was an "attempt to offer hope rather than being a memorial", BBC correspondent Peter Hunt said, adding that the ceremony focused on the diverse nature of society, with "prayers offered to protect the country from the forces of division and hatred".

The Dean praised the response of Britain and Londoners after the attack and told the congregation: "Our prayer and commitment is to live together peacefully and respectfully rich in our diversity and to sing together in harmony."

The Duke of Cambridge and Home Secretary Amber Rudd both delivered readings, while London mayor Sadiq Khan said a Muslim prayer.

Westminster attack: Khalid Masood 'rejected extremists'

29 March

A former employer of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood says the man he knew was "apolitical" and had "no interest" in religious extremism.

Farasat Latif, a director of the language school in Luton where Masood worked between 2010 and 2012, told The Guardian the knifeman did not appear to hold radical views "in any way, shape or form".

He "came across as a very mature, middle-class man who was very focused on his family and his career and also being a good Muslim", Latif said.

Last Wednesday's events had left staff at the school "angry" and "sickened", he added.

Latif, a trustee at the Luton Islamic Centre, also said he had witnessed Masood argue with members of the now-banned radical jihadist group Al-Muhajiroun at a street stall set up in the town.

“Khalid was a middle-aged, middle-class, intelligent black man and these were young, highly unintelligent young Asians. There was no common ground between them," he said. "He was apolitical; they were politicised.”

On one occasion, he added, Masood was "absolutely livid" that the far-right English Defence League (EDL) had announced a march in Luton and threatened to "kill them" if they came to the town.

"That's the only time I ever heard him say something aggressive," Latif said, saying he believed Masood's issue with the EDL was racial, rather than religious.

His comments further cloud the mystery surrounding the path that led Masood to kill four people and wound dozens more in an attack apparently motivated by radical Islam.

Several of his victims are still in hospital, one week after his attack. A Romanian woman, who fell into the Thames during Masood's rampage, remains in a critical condition, the BBC reports.

Andreea Cristea was visiting the capital with her boyfriend when Masood's car veered towards them on Westminster Bridge.

She was rescued by a lifeboat, and is now in a "critical but stable" condition, her family said.

Westminster attack: Khalid Massod's wife 'saddened and shocked'

28 March

The wife of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood says she was "saddened and shocked" by the atrocity and "totally condemned" his actions.

In a statement released by the Metropolitan Police, Rohey Hydara said: "I am saddened and shocked by what Khalid has done. I totally condemn his actions. I express my condolences to the families of the victims that have died, and wish a speedy recovery to all the injured.

"I would like to request privacy for our family, especially the children, at this difficult time."

Hydara was unaware of her husband's plans and "told friends that she thought [Masood] was going away to Saudi", reports the Daily Telegraph. Masood had previously worked as an English teacher in the Islamic kingdom.

She is "believed to be Masood's second wife", the BBC reports. The pair had been living together since around 2010, most recently at an address in the West Midlands.

Hydara, who is originally from the Gambia, spoke out after Masood's mother said she had shed "many tears" for the victims.

Janet Ajao, who lives in Carmarthenshire, Wales, issued a statement saying: "I wish to make it absolutely clear, so there can be no doubt: I do not condone his actions or support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity."

Masood, a 52-year-old father of three, ploughed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon before fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer in the grounds of Westminster Palace. He was shot dead by police officers.

Detectives say they have so far been unable to uncover any links between Masood, who was known as Adrian Ajao and Adrian Elms before his conversion to Islam, and terrorist groups such as Islamic State or Al-Qaeda. They also have no evidence that he discussed his plans with anyone.

However, Scotland Yard believes he accessed messaging service WhatsApp shortly before his attack and is appealing to anyone who received messages from him to come forward.

"If you heard from him on March 22, please come forward now," deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said. "The information you have may prove important to establishing his state of mind."


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