British Police Conduct Searches, Death Toll Rises After London Attack The latest on the attack in London this week that killed at least five people, including the attacker, and injured at least 50 people.
NPR logo

British Police Conduct Searches, Death Toll Rises After London Attack

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/521474692/521474693" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
British Police Conduct Searches, Death Toll Rises After London Attack

British Police Conduct Searches, Death Toll Rises After London Attack

British Police Conduct Searches, Death Toll Rises After London Attack

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/521474692/521474693" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The latest on the attack in London this week that killed at least five people, including the attacker, and injured at least 50 people.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Three days after an attack in central London that killed five people, including the attacker and injured dozens, British police are still trying to figure out what might have motivated Khalid Masood and whether he had accomplices. Authorities say that the 52-year-old British-born convert to Islam may have radicalized during a prison stay. Meanwhile, Londoners carry on with their famous pluck led by their Muslim mayor. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Right after Wednesday's attack, Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke at a vigil held in London's Trafalgar Square.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SADIQ KHAN: We come together to send a clear message. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

BEARDSLEY: Elected last May, Khan is the first Muslim mayor of a major European city. London has dealt with radical Islamist terrorism before but not with a Muslim mayor at the helm. Egyptian-born Brit, Isham Madkur says having Khan as mayor will remind some people not to confuse Muslims with depraved individuals. And he says Khan will help keep the city united.

ISHAM MADKUR: I'm proud from what he's doing now. OK. He's a Muslim and the majority of people here is not Muslim, but the people here give him their votes, and said, yes, Sadiq we need you to look after the city, look after our families.

BEARDSLEY: Mayor Khan and his police force are questioning hundreds of witnesses and examining masses of computer data seized in house raids this week. Seven people have been released but two are still in custody. They were arrested in Birmingham where Masood recently lived. Masood was born Adrian Russell Elms. Authorities are not sure at what point he converted and changed his name.

Back in the streets of London, Andy Stavrino is driving his black cab. He says Mayor Khan is much better than his predecessor, Boris Johnson, who ruined the city. Stavrino says he didn't think about the fact that Khan is Muslim until I asked him.

ANDY STAVRINO: He may be Muslim but he's a Londoner, you know? If he does a good job in London with the traffic and whatever, then it doesn't really bother me what he is really (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BEARDSLEY: Big Ben chimes above the Westminster Bridge where Masood plowed his SUV into pedestrians. The bridge has reopened and people are laying flowers. Lisa Dittmer says most Londoners love their city for its diversity.

LISA DITTMER: I think it's a great thing we have a mayor who's a Muslim and, you know, it's not a big thing. He just is.

BEARDSLEY: Dittmer says Sadiq Khan is doing a great job leading Londoners through this crisis.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, London.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

London Attack Update: One More Victim Dies, 8 People Released From Custody

With Parliament Square reopened after Wednesday's attack, people walk past the Houses of Parliament, with the Union Jack flag flying at half-staff in London. Jack Taylor/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jack Taylor/Getty Images

With Parliament Square reopened after Wednesday's attack, people walk past the Houses of Parliament, with the Union Jack flag flying at half-staff in London.

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

The death toll in Wednesday's terrorist attack near the U.K. Parliament has risen, after a 75-year-old man died of his injuries. Police say Leslie Rhodes of south London is the fourth person killed by British-born Khalid Masood, who was killed in the attack.

Other victims include Kurt Cochran of Utah, 54, whose wife was also seriously injured; Police Constable Keith Palmer, 48; and Aysha Frade, 43, who was reportedly on her way to pick her children up from school.

Police arrested 11 people in connection to the case, but have released eight of them with no action, and released one on bail.

Providing an update on the wounded, Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said, "two people remain in hospital in what is described as a critical condition, and one person is considered to have life threatening injuries."

"Two of our officers who were injured on Westminster Bridge in the attack also remain in hospital and also have sustained significant injuries," Rowley said.

When police identified the dead suspect as Khalid Masood, 52, on Thursday, they added that he had used "a number of aliases." And now they say that his name at birth was Adrian Russell Ajao.

"He is thought to have changed his name when he converted to Islam," NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from London.

Masood was born in Kent and "was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including [grievous bodily harm ], possession of offensive weapons and public order offences," Scotland Yard said Thursday.

Discussing the suspect yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons, "Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure; the case was historic; he was not part of the current intelligence picture."

Masood's criminal record dates to at least November 1983, when he was convicted of criminal damage. His last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

On Friday, Rowley thanked journalists who agreed to police requests not to publish Masood's name while investigators were still taking stock of the potential threat and arranging arrests and searches. After the attack, the authorities launched a counter-terrorism investigation called Operation Classific, Rowley says.

Police believe Masood acted alone, but they also want to know if he was inspired by propaganda from extremist groups such as ISIS — which issued a claim of responsibility Thursday — or if he might also have had support or direction from other people in Britain.

After a string of raids and arrests in the wake of the attack, two more arrests were made last night, Rowley said.

Of the people arrested, six have since been released with "no further police action." Another person, a woman, was arrested and released on bail.

Four people remain in police custody.

Searches have been either completed or are in-process at 21 locations, Rowley said. He added that police "have seized 2,700 items from our searches including massive of amounts of computer data."

At least 50 people were injured in the attack, in which Masood drove a small SUV onto the crowded sidewalk of Westminster Bridge. After crashing the vehicle into the fence around Parliament, Masood emerged with a large knife. He killed Palmer before another officer shot him to death.

As we reported Thursday, the attack's victims are from a wide cross-section, representing at least 12 nationalities.

Looking to ensure security heading into the weekend, police have nearly doubled the number of armed officers in London; elsewhere in the U.K., up to a third more armed officers are on duty.

On Friday, the Queen honored U.K. foreign affairs minister, Tobias Ellwood, who attempted to resuscitate Palmer in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Ellwood, along with security minister Ben Wallace, were appointed to the Privy Council which advises the monarchy. Wallace helped coordinate the government's response to the attack.