SHAFAQNA – This is the first photo of Khalid Masood, the terrorist responsible for the Westminster attack. Smiling broadly for the camera, he is photographed with school friends who were taking part in a charity five-a-side tournament.
The picture was taken around 1980, when Masood, who was known as Adrian Ajao was around 15-years-old.
Almost 40 years later, he would go on to wreak havoc at the heart of British democracy, murdering four innocent people.
Masood was born Adrian Elms and used the name Adrian Ajao, his stepfather Philip’s surname during his school years. In the photograph, Masood is sixth from the left in the back row. His arms are folded and he gives no clue as to the murderous path he would take. Masood went to Huntley School for Boys in Tunbridge Wells in Kent where he grew up.
One of his teammates in the picture, Kenton Till said he was an extremely popular pupil, who was bright and sporty.
Mr Tills said: “We were quite close for a few years. The picture was taken when we were taking part in a 24-hour five-a-side tournament for charity.
“Adrian was a bloody good footballer, one of the best players in the school. He was one of those kids who was very popular. He had a big personality and everyone liked him.
“He was very bright and very good at chemistry. I think he wanted to do something like that after he left school. We lost touch eventually. I remember he came to a New Year’s party at my house but he was with a group of lads who were drunk and on something and my parents asked them to leave. After that we sort of lost touch.
“This has come as a huge shock to me, it is hard to take in that this is the same bloke.”
It was after school that Masood’s life appeared to go off the rails, with him getting involved in petty and violent crime.
At 19 he received his first conviction for criminal damage. He went on to receive a string of convictions over the next 20-years.
Masood, may have eventually snapped because of racism in his village leading him to slash the face of a cafe owner.
It is thought he may have then been radicalised while in jail, eventually leading to his involvement in terrorism.
Reports emerged on Friday that the Muslim convert had recently become a grandfather, after neighbours said that the daughter of his wife had just had a baby.
Records suggest that Masood, who had given his occupation as an English tutor on several forms over the years, was married to a 39-year-old woman named Rohey Hydara, who lives in an Olympic Village apartment in east London.
Neighbours confirmed that Hydara lived in the flat and said she and her 14-year-old brother had seen Masood several weeks ago. Vera Amade, a 21-year-old mother of two said:
“My brother saw him a few times quite recently in the last few weeks.
“It was definitely him, the woman has two kids, one of the daughters has just had a baby. They all live in the same flat. She was quite polite, there was nothing bad to say about her.
“He was really nice and polite as well, he was very pleasant. I’m very shocked. We were watching it on TV last night and trying to figure out if it was definitely him and it is.
“He was always dressed in a suit, I don’t know what he did for a living. He used to come back from work at about five or six. We can’t believe it, it’s shocking.”
Masood went off the rails in July 2000, slashing a man across the face after an argument that had “racial overtones”. The attack would land him in jail and his life, already in a fragmented state, would fall apart. In another attack three years later, he stabbed a man in the nose before reportedly travelling to Saudi Arabia.
The extraordinary revelations will cause deep unease. Elms – or Masood, the Islamic name he adopted – was known to the authorities as a vicious thug whose ‘violent extremism’ had brought him to the attention of MI5. Yet at some point a decision was taken that he was no longer considered a threat.
On Wednesday, having stayed the night before the attack in a cheap hotel in Brighton, he got into a hired car, drove to London and then used it as a weapon to kill pedestrians on Westminster bridge.
Then brandishing a knife, he slaughtered a police officer, trying to protect the palace of Westminster, in cold blood.
Masood told staff at the Preston Park Hotel: “I’m off to London today” as if he was a tourist. The capital, he declared, “isn’t like it used to be.” Masood, whose mother was white and father black, was born in Dartford in Kent.
Masood was 35 and living in the quiet Sussex village of Northiam when in 2000 he slashed cafe owner Piers Mott in the face with a knife after a row that had ‘racial overtones’.
Hove Crown Court heard that the attack left Masood and his young family “ostracised” in the village. He had been in conflict with his victim before. After leaving the pub, in which he argued with his victim, Masood lost his temper and slashed seat covers in Mott’s car.
When Mott arrived at his car, Masood waved the knife at him and caught his face, leaving him needing more than 20 stitches.
The court heard at the time that Masood had consumed four pints during the afternoon and had the knife because he was decorating his daughter’s bedroom.
Alexander Taylor-Camara, defending, said: “When the defendant moved to the local area it was to try to give his family and himself a better and more tranquil way of life.
“The majority of people seemed to get on well with them but there was a problem with this man. Things got out of hand on this particular day.
“There were racial overtones in the argument between himself and the victim. He let that get to him – unusually, because in the past he has been able to shrug off that sort of abuse.
“He lost his temper and decided to take it out on this gentleman’s vehicle. But in one movement the knife came into contact with the victim’s face.
“His wife and family have now become ostracised in the village. It is a very small community and his wife and family have been extremely affected by this.
“He will effectively have to move his family from the village and start to live his life all over again. It will leave the village with a view of black people in the area. The trust that may have been there in the beginning is now completely lost.
“He does deeply regret this incident ever arising and expresses remorse for what he has done.”
Judge Charles Kemp sentenced Elms to a total of two years in prison.
Commenting on the row between the victim and Elms, Judge Kemp said: “While it doesn’t afford any excuse for your behaviour it may afford some degree of explanation.”
Masood, one of only two black men Northiam – according to a court report at the time – was ostracised from the community. He was jailed for two years for the attack.
Three years later and now out of jail, Masood was accused of stabbing a man in the nose, leaving him needing cosmetic surgery. He was sent back to jail for another six months for possession of offensive weapon. He served time in Lewes jail, East Sussex, Wayland prison in Norfolk, and Ford open prison, West Sussex.
It is quite likely he was radicalised during a spell in jail.
By 2005 he was working in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, then teaching workers at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Jeddah, according to The Sun, which says it obtained a copy of Masood’s CV.
In the CV, which was sent out just weeks ago, he is said to describe himself as “British”, “friendly and approachable” and a good listener.
The document reportedly claims he had a economics degree. He apparently began in sales and was later promoted to manager at Aaron Chemicals in Bodiam, East Sussex.
In 2004 he is understood to have married a Muslim, Farzana Malik. It is unclear what became of their marriage and whether Masood converted to Islam at the time. In the same year, The Sun reports, Masood’s CV claims he gained a TESOL certificate, allowing him to teach English to foreigners.
In spring 2009, Masood reportedly returned from Saudi Arabia to the UK. After a five-month gap, he is said to have joined a TEFL college in Luton as a “senior English teacher”.
Theresa May, in a statement to MPs at 10.30am on Thursday, was quick to absolve her security services of blame.
“His identity is known to the police and MI5 and, when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified,” she said.
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that – some years ago – he was once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic – he was not part of the current intelligence picture.
“There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot.”
Five hours later, the Metropolitan Police made public one of his adopted names – Khalid Masood- in a short statement that gave scant details of his long history of violent crime. None, they stressed, were for terrorism offences.
Police finally admitted on Thursday night that Masood was not his birth name, adding to mystery about why his real name Adrian Elms was being withheld.
Masood, a burly bodybuilding enthusiast, received his first conviction in November 1983 for criminal damage when he was 18 and his last one in 2003 for possession of a knife.
In a 20-year criminal career he also received convictions for causing grievous bodily harm.
He has lived a nomadic existence including stints on the south coast as well as in Kent.
It is thought that after his time in prison, he came onto MI5’s radar. A Whitehall source said he had been a person of interest but “peripheral” to a terror investigation. The source declined to identify the terror cell.
Over the past five or six years, Masood, his wife, aged 39, and their young children, have been on the move. Electoral roll records show him living in areas notorious for pockets of Islamist extremism.
He lived for more than two years until 2013 in Luton, where Anjem Choudary, an influential preacher now in jail for terror offences, had been a regular and often mob-handed visitor.
A former neighbour in Luton, Katie Garriques, 48, a former headteacher, remembered a “polite, shy” and “quite portly man” whom she often saw gardening at the front of the property and playing with his children.
When she saw the photograph of Masood having been shot in Westminster, she recognised him instantly. “I’m just saddened. I feel sick to be honest,” she said.
Monica, another neighbour in Luton, said she only ever saw him at night. “He was like a shadow, you wouldn’t often see him. He was often in Islamic dress,” she said.
From Luton, Masood and his family moved to Forest Gate in east London. A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said Masood frequented a mosque in nearby Leyton. Another neighbour, Ibrahima Kone, 57, a cab driver, said the family lived there for three years. At some stage Masood’s wife had moved to a new property on the site of the Olympic Village. A property there was raided by police on Wednesday night.
In the past year, Masood and his family moved to Birmingham to a block of flats at Quayside in Winson Green. It is not clear why they moved there, but that property was also raided by anti-terror police following the attack.
Student Kaodi Campbell, 25, confirmed the man in the picture was her neighbour. “He was always polite and would say ‘hello, hello’ to me,” she said.
“You could tell they were religious, his wife always wore traditional dress. I last saw them just over a month ago. They had three children. He had a job and you would see him leaving for work or taking his children to school.”
Local children remember him joining in games of football. One boy said: “Sometimes he’d play as well, though he wasn’t very good. He wore a skull cap and had a long bushy beard.”
On Monday or Tuesday, Masood turned up at the car hire company Enterprise at its Spring Hill depot in Birmingham and rented the Hyundai SUV used in Wednesday’s attack.
He gave his profession as a teacher and, it is understood, his address as a rented flat close to Edgbaston and not far from the Enterprise offices. On Wednesday at 11pm, armed police stormed the upstairs flat at Hagley Road. More than a dozen officers armed with machine guns stormed the premises, making three arrests. One witness, who works in a shop near the second-floor flat, said: “The man from London lived here. They came and arrested three men.”
Scotland Yard said on Thursday it had made eight arrests, seven in Birmingham and one in east London of a 39-year-old woman. A property in Brighton, where The Sun reported Masood spent his last night, and another in south-east London were also searched.
David Videcette, a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer and security expert, said it was odd that Masood had committed the atrocity at the age of 52.
“His age is surprising as most terrorists are radicalised at a much younger age,” said Mr Videcette. “It would be my assessment that he has probably had quite a troubled past, with involvement in drink or drugs leading him into criminality.
“Then at some point, possibly in the last decade, he has converted to Islam and changed his name. Then it appears that he has fallen under the malign influence of others who have encouraged or persuaded him to carry out this attack, possibly for money for his family.”
Mr Videcette added: “What will be key is establishing why he has suddenly and quite recently moved to Birmingham, having spent most of his life in the South East.
“Pretty much every terror case I worked on had some Birmingham connection somewhere along the line. It is likely there were people there who were part of his close circle and the police will want to look at that aspect very closely indeed.”