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Detectives unravelling final hours of Westminster killer Khalid Masood

A bigger picture of the final hours and violent past of Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood is being created by detectives who are trying to find out if he acted alone or had support.

Eleven people have been arrested as part of the inquiry but Scotland Yard said only two men remained in custody - two men aged 27 and 58 who were arrested in Birmingham on Thursday.

All are being held on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

Seven of those arrested have now been released from police custody and face no further action - two women aged 21 and 26 and four men aged 23, 26, 27 and 28 who were all arrested at addresses in Birmingham and a 35-year-old man arrested in Manchester.

A 32-year-old woman, also arrested in Manchester, has been bailed pending further inquiries, while a 39-year-old woman arrested in east London has been released on bail until late March.

Masood, 52, killed four people including unarmed Pc Keith Palmer and injured dozens more when he ploughed a hired car across Westminster Bridge and stormed the parliamentary estate armed with two blades before being shot by police.

The middle-aged Muslim convert was born Adrian Elms and also called himself Adrian Russell Ajao.

Before the attack Masood had stayed at the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton, and the manager says he had been "laughing and joking, telling us stories about where he lived", just hours before the atrocity.

Sky News claimed he used the WhatsApp messaging service seconds before launching the attack.

Scotland Yard's head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley said detectives want to understand his "motivation, preparation and associates" and if he "either acted totally alone, inspired by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him".

Detectives have seized 2,700 items from the searches, including "massive amounts" of computer data, while around 3,500 witnesses have been spoken to.

Searches at three addresses are continuing.

Mr Rowley said: "We remain keen to hear from anyone who knew Khalid Masood well, understands who his associates were, and can provide us with information about places he has recently visited.

"There might well be people out there who did have concerns about Masood but weren't sure or didn't feel comfortable for whatever reason in passing information to us.

"I urge anyone with such information to contact us."

Meanwhile, the widow of a man attacked with a knife by Masood in a pub assault said her late husband was injured after defending someone during a row.

Masood was jailed for two years over the 2000 attack in the car park of a pub in Northiam, near Rye, East Sussex, according to a news report at the time.

The Brighton Argus reported that Masood, who stood trial as Adrian Elms, "left Piers Mott with a three-inch gash on his left cheek" requiring 20 stitches, after an altercation with "racial overtones".

Adrian Baker, 51, who has lived in Northiam for 25 years, said Elms was known as a "troubled" character.

Alice Williams, landlady of the Rose and Crown pub in the village of Beckley, near Rye, where Masood would sometimes drink, described him as "intelligent but odd".

Mrs Williams, 59, said: "He would do the Telegraph crossword and, to be fair, would make intelligent conversation, but he was a bit racist."

Hero MP Tobias Ellwood, who ran towards gunfire to try and unsuccessfully tried to save the life of stabbed Pc Palmer, and security minister Ben Wallace have been appointed to the Privy Council for their roles in responding to the atrocity.

Downing Street announced that the Queen was "pleased" to approve the appointments. Mr Wallace helped co-ordinate the Government's response.

In other developments:

:: A fourth victim who died after being hurt in the attack was named as Leslie Rhodes, a retired window cleaner from Clapham, south London, who neighbours described as a "lovely man".

:: Police chiefs launched a major increase in the number of firearms officers on duty around the country.

:: Two people remain in hospital in a critical condition, one with life-threatening injuries. Two police officers hurt in the attack are also in hospital with "significant injuries". The family of Pc Kristofer Aves said he had just received a commendation for his work as a family liaison officer when "what started as a celebratory day, ended in tragedy" when he was seriously injured as he crossed Westminster Bridge.

Masood was known to police and MI5 but was a "peripheral figure" who was not implicated in any current probe. He had convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.

Masood's victims on the bridge included US tourist Kurt Cochran and his wife Melissa, from Utah, who were on the last day of a trip celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Mrs Cochran was badly injured.

Aysha Frade, who worked in administration at independent sixth-form school DLD College London, in Westminster, also died. She is believed to be a 43 year-old married mother of two.

Police said armed patrols would take place around Wembley Stadium and extra officers would be at the ground as England played a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on Sunday.

There will also be a minute's silence before the 5pm kick-off.


From Belfast Telegraph