London terror attack: Businessman describes meeting Khalid Masood in Brighton hotel

 Michael Petersen said Masood had appeared 'articulate, polite and presentable'

Harry Cockburn
Friday 24 March 2017 12:06 GMT
Businessman met killer in Brighton hotel hours before Westminster attack

A man has described coming face to face with terrorist attacker Khalid Masood just hours ahead of his deadly attack in Westminster in which four people were killed.

Businessman Michael Petersen told reporters Masood had appeared “smiling, polite”, the night before the attack.

Mr Petersen was staying at a hotel in Brighton where Masood had also stayed the night before the attack, and he encountered the killer in reception.

“I noticed a very polite demeanour from the killer,” Mr Petersen told Sky News.

“There’s nothing in his conduct that would make me have suspicious thoughts towards him.”

Asked how the encounter with the terrorist has made him feel, Mr Petersen replied: “I have been thinking about that since.

“The shocking realisation that you can stand next to somebody that is totally, perfectly normal.

“Articulate, polite, presentable – and the guy is on his way to commit mass murder.

“That means it could potentially be anyone you're standing next to. That is quite a shocking realisation.”

Masood also reportedly told staff at the Preston Park Hotel in Brighton that London “wasn’t like what it used to be”.

A source told The Sun he chatted with staff at the hotel and told them he was “off to London today”.

Detectives traced him to the hotel thanks to a receipt left in the car he crashed into railings outside Parliament

Police have appealed to anyone who knew Masood to come forward with information.

He is believed to have operated under various aliases, and the Metropolitan Police have revealed he was born as Adrian Russell Ajao in Kent.

Masood killed three people with a hired car as he drove into pedestrians on Westminster bridge, before crashing the car and stabbing PC Keith Palmer outside Parliament.

Fifty people were injured in the attack and 31 required hospital treatment. Two people remain in a critical condition, one with life-threatening injuries.

Isis hailed Masood as a “soldier of the Islamic State” in a claim of responsibility issued the following day, although the extent of any involvement by the terrorist group remains unclear.

Scotland Yard's Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said officers were investigating whether Masood was radicalised by online jihadi propaganda or if he had been directed by the terrorist group.

“Our investigation focuses on understanding his motivation, his preparation and his associates,” he added.

“Our determination is to find out whether he acted totally alone inspired by terrorist propaganda or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.”

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