British Police Make More Arrests In Attack Investigation

Mar 24, 2017
Originally published on March 24, 2017 1:07 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

British investigators would like the public to help provide clues about a killer. The man who attacked people near Britain's Parliament was 52. He's a British man who converted to Islam. It's not considered certain that he acted alone. We now go to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who's in London.

Hi, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What is known about the suspect?

BEARDSLEY: Well, the suspect was 52 years old. And he went by the name Khalid Masood. But this morning, an investigator from Scotland Yard said his actual birth name was Adrian Russell. He was born on Christmas Day.

And so it seems that his - Masood was a Muslim name and that he had converted.

INSKEEP: Any accomplices?

BEARDSLEY: That is what the police want to know. You know, the spokesperson for the investigation went on television this morning. He said, you know, they're doing house raids. They've questioned thousands of people. And now, authorities are appealing to the public to find out who this man was. Did he have accomplices? And this is what spokesman Mark Rowley said this morning.

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MARK ROWLEY: Our investigation focuses on understanding his motivation, his preparation and his associates. You will understand our determination is to find out if either he acted totally alone inspired by perhaps terrorist propaganda or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.

BEARDSLEY: And Steve, he gave an 800 number at that point and urged people to call. He said there may be people out there who know him and were hesitant to come forward, suspected strange behavior. Please don't hesitate to call this number.

INSKEEP: Hasn't ISIS said we did this, this is our guy?

BEARDSLEY: Of course, Steve, they have. But, you know, you have to wonder, did he actually have any contacts with ISIS? You know, maybe ISIS just wants to capitalize on these killings. And, you know, ISIS has urged people to go out and just kill on their own. So this could just be an angry person who wants to get more fame maybe for what he did and claim it with ISIS. People, you know, the authorities just don't know right now.

INSKEEP: It's a good reminder. We don't know really about this suspect. But counterterrorism experts focus on disturbed individuals who may be on their way to a violent act regardless but pick up an ideology along the way, almost incidentally. So what is it like to be in London right now, Eleanor?

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know what, Steve, it feels normal. People are going back to work. And, you know, the city is not in lockdown or crawling with police. And Londoners actually take pride in that. They say our city is resilient. We will not be cowed by depraved, you know, acts of one man.

And I actually went to a rally last night at Trafalgar Square, sort of the heart of London. It represents the empire, Lord Nelson's statue on the top of the, you know, the column. And people were out. You know, it was a vigil. They were there, you know, for the victims but also in solidarity. One of the people I talked to was Caroline Criado-Perez. And she was holding her little dog. And this is what she told me.

CAROLINE CRIADO-PEREZ: I just wanted to come here to show that, you know, London goes on. And we all come together in the face of this kind of stuff. And we won't be beaten by it. And, you know, my dog's been licking people in the crowd. Yeah, it's been really important to me to walk around central London and just be part of my community.

BEARDSLEY: Now, Steve, I have to tell you there were many Muslims out last night and religious leaders of all faiths and a lot of just Muslim young people talking to people - this is not our faith. This is not, you know, Islam. And, you know, I didn't see any anger. There was nobody accusing anybody else. It was just a lot of coming together and comforting each other.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, Eleanor, thanks very much, really appreciate it.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in London, where authorities continue investigating this week's attack. Five people, including the attacker, were killed.

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