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Khalid Masood illed four people in Westminster
Security services are racing to establish how Khalid Masood, the 52-year-old who killed four people in Westminster on Wednesday, was radicalised to the point of committing a terror attack.
The terrorist, born Adrian Elms, mowed down tourists on Westminster Bridge before crashing his car into Parliament’s gates and stabbing a police officer.
The attack by the father-of-three was deadly but unsophisticated, leading to questions over his motives.
But terror experts have claimed the attack on British soil represents a horrifying new threat to Britain.
In terms of ISIS operations of attack, there have been instances of several ‘remote controlled’ actions
Global terror researchers, journalists and intelligence experts were poised for the ISIS affiliation announcement the moment the attack unfolded.
In the past, the group has released videos of the perpetrators in the days before they struck – often pledging their allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu-Bakr al Baghdadi.
But that did not happen this time – and it is this that has sparked fear in investigators.
The Amaq News Agency, affiliated with ISIS, took credit for the killings, but has been unable to prove officials were in any contact with Masood.
Now those who watch jihadis closely have determined the ISIS message has spread so far and wide – through radicalised individuals and interest sites – their bidding is being done for them.
Dennis Wecker, a Research Fellow at ICSVE who focuses on foreign fighters, counter terrorism and security policy warned jihadis are now able to “remote control” terror across the Western world while ISIS can claim it was behind an attack without having to spend a penny on planning or any links to the individuals who commit the atrocities.
Security services are racing to find out how Khalid Masood was radicalised London terror attack: Latest pictures Fri, March 24, 2017
4 dead and 40 injured in London terror attack
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Armoured police personnel carriers are seen on a street leading to the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 24, 2017 two days after the March 22 terror attack on the British parliament and Westminster Bridge
Mr Wecker said: “Something they were not affiliated to or responsible for.
“It is worth mentioning though, that not every lone actor terrorist was in touch with ISIS officials prior to conducting an attack.
“This person might just have been influenced by ISIS propaganda and acted.
“It should also be noted that in terms of ISIS operations of attack, there have been instances of several ‘remote controlled’ actions.”
Telegram channels and Twitter accounts amass thousands of followers who go on to spread the message of hate.
Mr Wecker, from the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism said there are “fans” of the jihadis across the globe.
He said: “AMAQ comes in different languages and forms, mainly on telegram but is also shared on twitter and Facebook.
“Some channels and people communicate from the US and Europe, but we also see significant numbers from Syria and Iraq.”
There is no doubt among experts that ISIS “influenced” Khalid – but they believe there must have been little contact.
Former counter terror chief, Ahmet Yayla, a professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University, said the ties with ISIS may have been “weaker” than they were with previous attacks.
When Abdulkadir Masharipov attacked the Reina nightclub in Istanbul he had been in direct contact with Daesh chiefs and was reportedly placed in Turkey by them, being paid to acts a ‘sleeper’.
In December, the Amaq agency released a video of Anis Amri pledging allegiance to al-Baghdadi, before he went on to kill 12 people at a Berlin market.
In July 2016, two ISIS affiliated thugs slit the throat of Jacques Hamel, 86, in front of his congregation – and Amaq later released a video of the pair pledging allegiance to ISIS.
Tobias Ellwood tried to save Keith Palmer after the London terror attack
In the same month, 84 people were killed when a truck ploughed through Bastille Day crowds.
Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian man with French residency, carried out the attack but no affiliation video appeared.
Mr Yayla said based on the wording used in the Amaq statement on the London attack ISIS “didn't imply they had direct connections with the attacker”.
A flower laid at Westminster Bridge
He said: “ISIS rather used a broader term ‘response to our calls to attack’ for the Westminster attack.
“This may imply the attacker acted on his own.”
Police in the UK and experts are warning the public to be vigilant – especially since ISIS’ calls are being heard across Europe, and sometimes without any direct contact between individuals and the terror group.
Although there are no specific threats present, according to the UK Government and security services, Mr Wecker said “the narrative” being used by ISIS means “we need to stay alert”.