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Westminster attacker’s mother tells court: ‘I’m utterly ashamed’



The mother of the Westminster attacker has told an inquest that she never suspected he was capable of terrorism and is “utterly ashamed” about his actions.

Khalid Masood was shot dead after stabbing PC Keith Palmer, 48, to death and killing Kurt Cochran, 54; Leslie Rhodes, 75; Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, when he drove into them on Westminster Bridge.

Masood converted to Islam in 2003 after spending time in prison and his mother, Janet Ajao, said he had “never stopped talking about it”.

She said he would tell her “Islam is the only religion” and she was reluctant to stay in touch because all she “got was an Islamic lecture”.

This picture of Khalid Masood was released by the Metropolitan Police
Masood would lecture his family on Islam

Ms Ajao told the hearing into the victims’ deaths that when she saw her son for the last time, he said: “They’ll think I’m a terrorist but I’m not.”

She said she had no idea what he was referring to and only found out about the attack when she saw the news.

“As soon as I saw the body I knew it was him,” she said.

“I’m utterly ashamed. I’m ashamed my son has done this,” she added.

She also described how he once turned into the “Incredible Hulk” over a row over how many pieces of chicken he wanted for his dinner.

She said her son had just got back from a night drinking and “it was like he exploded”.

Ms Ajao told the Old Bailey: “My husband went, ‘it’s all right, it’s all right’, and I just grabbed hold of his arm because I didn’t want it to become a violent thing.”

Writings of Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood on a road atlas that was shown to the inquest at the Old Bailey
The terrorist’s final thoughts were scrawled on an atlas found in his rented car

She told victims’ families: “I continue to be deeply saddened by the hurt my son has caused. I wish to offer my sympathy and condolences.”

Masood’s widow also appeared in court.

Rohey Hydara said her husband had wanted her to wear religious dress and was “controlling and angry” – and that he became particularly bad tempered while taking steroids.

She said the night before the attack, 21 March 2017, he video-called her and his children and appeared “very emotional”.

Ms Hydara said when she saw photos of the attack she called police and told them “I think my husband is involved”.

Addressing the families in court, she said: “I know it is hard for you. It is for me every day. I cannot imagine what you are going through.

“I am sorry I was not more vigilant. I cannot believe I was married to someone that evil. I hope you can find closure and not let him win.”

Ms Hydara said Masood was “very, very serious” about the gym and started taking steroids in 2009.

She said he was “very, very short tempered” and threatened her with divorce twice – once when she refused to stop wearing trousers and again when she asked him to give up steroids.

“He would get very bad when he was on steroids,” she told the court.

Ms Hydara said she had recorded some of her husband’s rants when he was on the muscle-building drugs.

She said she was not aware of Masood associating with any extremist group, but that spending time in Saudi Arabia in 2007 had made him even more observant of his faith.

The inquest also heard that Masood referred to his murderous attack as an “exciting opportunity” in “chilling” handwritten notes made days earlier.

More from Westminster Attack

His final thoughts as he planned the atrocity were scrawled on a road atlas found in his rented 4×4 after he used it to plough through pedestrians before knifing a policeman to death.

Ms Ajao and Ms Hydara had an application for anonymity refused by coroner Mark Lucraft QC before the start of the hearing.

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