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Westminster inquests: Khalid Masood's 'chilling' handwritten notes made days before terror attack revealed in court

Court played recording of terrorist ranting about Isis to his wife, as mother recalls him going 'on and on' about Islam after prison conversion

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 20 September 2018 20:07 BST
Westminster attacker Khalid Masood attacking his wife for being moderate, says Isis ‘is doing some good’

The Westminster attacker described his atrocity as an “exciting opportunity” in a handwritten note found inside the car he ploughed into his victims with, an inquest has heard.

Khalid Masood wrote the “chilling” message on the inside of a road atlas which was left in the hired 4 by 4, alongside notes reading: “Previous examples, this life, right time. All outcomes are good, so go ahead.”

Masood also wrote what appeared to be reminders including “drive mode=sport mode” followed by “between seats” and “lock doors”. His scribbles ended with the words “hatred motivation”.

Dominic Adamson, representing the widows of murdered PC Keith Palmer and American tourist Keith Cochran, 54, said: “Chillingly, he wrote ‘exciting opportunity.’”

The Old Bailey heard that the 52-year-old, who converted to Islam in prison almost two decades ago, had carried out online searches for Isis and ranted about the terrorist group to his wife.

Seconds before launching the attack on 22 March 2017, Masood sent his own manifesto entitled “Jihad” to contacts including his wife Rohey ​Hydara.

Ms Hydara cried as she apologised to his five victims’ families in court, having been refused anonymity by the coroner.

“I can’t believe I was married to someone that evil,” she said, apologising that she was not “more vigilant” before the atrocity.

She said she did not believe her husband was capable of an act of “evil”, adding: “He made me trust him and I had no reason to doubt him.”

Notes written on a road atlas by Westminster attacker Khalid Masood in the days before the attack (Metropolitan Police)

Ms Hydara, who married Masood shortly after meeting him in 2006, said her husband was more religious than her, more strict in eating halal food and had tried to make her wear Islamic clothes.

But she said he had also taken steroids for almost 10 years, threatening her with divorce when she asked him to stop and again when she refused to stop wearing trousers.

Ms Hydara described her husband, who had a string of violent convictions and had abused his previous partners, as “very, very short-tempered”.

“If you would look at him in a certain way he would talk about it for an hour. He was angry. I would always back down,” she added, telling how she recorded Masood’s rants.

In one monologue played in court, Masood’s raised voice is heard saying: “I never hear you say there’s any good in Isis, I never hear you say at least they’re fighting against the Shia [Muslims], they’re doing some good.

“All you say is they’re bad, they’re evil and they’re wicked, there’s no good in them.

“You even said they’re the same as the Jews and the Shia, which is absolutely disgraceful...they’re not the enemy.”

On the morning of the attack, Masood sent his wife and children a text reading: “I hope you guys are all okay. I have been thinking about you lots, love daddy.”

He sent another message of an emoji blowing a kiss.

Then just before the attack, his wife received another text containing Masood’s “Jihad” document, which featured a photo of the terrorist in Mecca as the front cover.

Ms Hydara said she thought it was “strange” and texted him back asking to speak urgently, later calling the police to identify Masood after seeing photos of his body.

The Westminster attacker Khalid Masood in Mecca, Saudi Arabia (Metropolitan Police)

He was shot dead by police after killing Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, on Westminster Bridge and stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death outside the Houses of Parliament.

Masood’s mother, Janet Ajao, recalled his “fiery, angry personality” and described one incident where he turned into the “Incredible Hulk” after drinking.

“I think I referred to him as the Incredible Hulk because it was like he exploded,” Mrs Ajao said, telling the court of a row that broke out over dinner at her home.

“This was down to drinking. I’m ashamed to say I think he quite enjoyed drinking and fighting.”

Ms Ajao told the court how her son would go ”on and on and on“ about Islam after he converted in prison, later officially changing his name from Adrian Elms.

“He never stopped talking about it,” she added. “And he would phone and I would say: ‘How are you, how are things, how are the children?’.

“He went on and on. I would put the phone down, make a cup of tea, come back and he would still be talking. I learned all I wanted to learn.”

But she said Masood never expressed extremist views to her or hostility or hatred towards others.

In an email to his mother in 2013, he had blamed failings in his life on not being able to get into grammar school in Tunbridge Wells as a teenager.

“I felt so angry, frustrated and unloved,” he wrote. “I began smoking, taking drugs and getting drunk on a regular basis.

“I fell out with dad and we stopped talking to each other on a regular basis. Slowly, I began building up a criminal record for fighting in public.”

Mrs Ajao’s voice broke with emotion as she was shown the email, and she said: “It upset me deeply and I spent a long time thinking: ‘What did I do wrong?.”’

In a second email sent on 7 March last year, Masood spoke of his plans to go to Morocco and said he would visit her in Wales on 16 March.

He arrived in the rented Hyundai Tucson he would use as a weapon six days later.

Mrs Ajao told the court how he made her utter Islamic phrases such as “Allah is the one true God and Mohammed the prophet” over dinner and again before he left the following day.

She said: “I repeated them. He put his hands over his face and sobbed and then just gave me a big smile and said: ‘It would be even better if you believed it.”’

Masood’s mother claimed she had no idea what her son had in mind when he told her: “They’ll say I’m a terrorist. I’m not.”

“I know it sounds ridiculous but it didn’t enter my head,” she added. “I’m utterly ashamed. I’m ashamed he’s done this.”

Gareth Patterson QC, representing some of the victims’ families, told Mrs Ajao and Ms Hydara that they could have prevented the attack by informing authorities, but both victims said they did not anticipate Masood’s actions.

The inquests into the deaths of Masood’s victims continue, and a hearing to establish the circumstances of his death will be held at a later date.

Additional reporting by PA

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