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Saturday
Mar252017

US reviewing airstrike that corresponds to site where 200 Iraqi civilians allegedly died

Main_sail/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military admitted that an airstrike in Iraq on March 17 corresponds to a site where 200 civilians allegedly died, but said it is still assessing the particulars of the strike and the validity of allegations of civilian casualties.

"An initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties," stated a media release from the task force Saturday. A formal review of the March 17 operation "is underway to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties," the release said.

The military’s release came after it earlier announced a review of whether any of three airstrikes in Syria and Iraq over the past week were linked to reported deaths of hundreds of civilians.

In addition to the March 17 airstrike in western Mosul that reportedly killed 200 civilians, Central Command also said this week it is reviewing a March 16 airstrike near a mosque in al-Jinnah, Syria, that is said to have killed dozens, and an airstrike Monday, March 20, on a school building outside of Raqqa, Syria, that may have also killed dozens of civilians fleeing local fighting.

The March 17 strike targeted three adjoining houses. Local news reports indicate ISIS may have used civilians in the area as human shields in an effort to guard against airstrikes on the buildings. The Iraqi military's media operations center has claimed that ISIS was responsible for the civilian deaths.

Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the operation against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and beyond, noted on Friday that ISIS has previously demonstrated disregard for civilians and civilian facilities by “using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals and religious sites."

Scrocca added there have been instances where ISIS forced families from their homes to booby-trap them with explosives to delay Iraqi forces.

The Central Command's release on Saturday asserted that the coalition fighting ISIS "respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality. Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS’s inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians."

"Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians," the statement said.

The U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 19,000 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the summer of 2014.

U.S. Central Command has also opened a credibility assessment into an airstrike Monday night, March 20, that targeted a school building near Raqqa, ISIS's de facto capital inside Syria.

The activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleges that an airstrike on the school killed 33 civilians who had been seeking shelter from local fighting.

And, U.S. Central Command is conducting a full investigation and credibility assessment of an airstrike on March 16 in the village of al-Jinnah in northwestern Syria.

U.S. officials said that airstrike killed dozens of al-Qaeda militants who had gathered for a meeting in a building near a mosque across the street. They emphasized that the mosque was not struck and that the building was not affiliated with the mosque. However, locals said that dozens of worshipers were killed in the airstrike and that the targeted building was, in fact, a mosque.

A military spokesman confirmed that earlier this week Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, ordered a full investigation into the circumstances of the mission.

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Saturday
Mar252017

US airstrike kills senior al Qaeda leader, Pentagon says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An American counter-terrorism airstrike conducted last weekend in eastern Afghanistan killed a senior al Qaeda leader named Qari Yasin, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

Yasin is responsible for plotting a number of high-profile al Qaeda terror attacks, including the 2008 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, and a 2009 bombing that targeted a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan.

In addition to the dozens of innocent victims killed in these attacks, the 2008 bombing in Islamabad killed two U.S. military personnel: Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryan.

"The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice," Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement.

Yasin, from Balochistan, Pakistan, had ties to the Pakistan-based terror organization Tehrik-e Taliban.

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Saturday
Mar252017

UKIP's only MP resigns to become an independent

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The United Kingdom Independence Party's (UKIP) only member of parliament has quit the party to become an independent.

Douglas Carswell, who was with the Conservatives until switching to the Brexit-supporting UKIP in 2014, announced the news on his website on Saturday. The 45-year-old said he joined UKIP "because I desperately wanted [Britain] to leave the [European Union. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP."

"UKIP might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever," Carswell said. "We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better."

Carswell's news comes ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, which will begin formal negotiations of the U.K.'s exit from the EU.

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Friday
Mar242017

US reviewing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that may have killed 100s of civilians

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) -- The U.S. military is reviewing whether three airstrikes in Syria and Iraq over the past week were responsible for the reported deaths of more than 200 civilians.

U.S. Central Command confirms it has begun "credibility assessments” into allegations of civilian casualties in a possible airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, this week that reportedly killed 200 civilians, a March 16 airstrike near a mosque in al-Jinnah, Syria, that is said to have killed dozens, and an airstrike Monday on a school building outside of Raqqa, Syria, that may have also killed dozens of civilians fleeing local fighting.

Credibility assessments are initial reviews that seek to determine whether claims of civilian deaths from airstrikes are credible.

The U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 19,000 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the summer of 2014. U.S. Central Command's review of allegations of civilian casualties has determined that at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition airstrikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The latest allegations of civilian deaths from a coalition airstrike involve reports that as many as 200 civilians were killed in an airstrike in western Mosul targeting three adjoining houses. Local news reports indicate ISIS may have used the civilians as human shields to prevent airstrikes on the buildings, and the Iraqi military's media operations center claims ISIS was responsible for the civilian deaths.

"The coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation and we are currently analyzing conflicting allegations and all possible strikes in that area," said Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve. "This process takes time though, especially when the date of the alleged strike is in question. Right now we are working with multiple allegations placing a strike in the area sometime between March 17 and 23.

"We will continue to assess the allegations and determine what if any role a coalition strike may have had in that area," said Scrocca.

The spokesman noted ISIS's previous disregard for civilians and civilian facilities by “using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals and religious sites." He added there have been instances where ISIS forced families from their homes to booby-trap them with explosives to delay Iraqi forces.

U.S. Central Command has also opened a credibility assessment into an airstrike Monday night that targeted a school building near Raqqa, ISIS's de facto capital inside Syria.

The activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleges that an airstrike on the school killed 33 civilians who had been seeking shelter from local fighting.

U.S. Central Command is also conducting a full investigation and credibility assessment into an airstrike on March 16 in the village of al-Jinnah in northwestern Syria.

U.S. officials said that airstrike killed dozens of al-Qaeda militants who had gathered for a meeting in a building near a mosque across the street. They emphasized that the mosque was not struck and that the building was not affiliated with the mosque. However, locals said that dozens of worshipers were killed in the airstrike and that the targeted building was, in fact, a mosque.

A U.S. Central Command spokesman confirms that earlier this week Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, ordered a full investigation into the circumstances of the mission.

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Friday
Mar242017

Police release photo of London terror attack suspect

Metropolitan Police(LONDON) — Police Friday released a photograph of the British national believed to be behind this week's deadly terror attack in London.

The suspect, Khalid Masood, was shot and killed by police after his Wednesday afternoon attack that killed four people, including a police officer, and injured at least 28 others.

The Metropolitan Police said Masood "has previously gone by the names of Adrian Elms and Adrian Russell Ajao. He may also be known by a number of other names."

The investigation focuses on determinding Masood's motivation, preparation and associates, Metropolitan Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said Friday. Police are working to find out if Masood "acted totally alone inspired by terrorist propaganda" or "if others have encouraged, supported or directed him," Rowley said.

There is no evidence of further threats connected to the attack, Rowley said, adding that anyone with information about Masood is asked to come forward, Rowley said.

Six of the people who were arrested as part of the investigation were released from police custody on Friday, Metropolitan Police said in a press release. Four people remain in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts, police said.

Wednesday's attack began when a car struck pedestrians and three police officers on Westminster Bridge.

The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament, and a man armed with a knife attacked an officer who was standing guard.

London police said that among those injured, two remain in critical condition in hospitals, one of them with life-threatening injuries.

In addition, two police officers injured in the attack remain in the hospital with serious injuries.

On Thursday night, London Mayor Sadiq Khan led a candlelight vigil in Trafalgar Square for the victims.

"We come together as Londoners tonight to remember those who have lost their lives and all those affected by the horrific attack yesterday," Khan said in a speech at the vigil. "When Londoners face adversity we always pull together ... Our response to this attack on our city, to this attack on our way of life, to this attack on our shared values, shows the world what it means to be a Londoner."

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Friday
Mar242017

Prince William, Duchess Kate announce school choice for Prince George

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince William and Duchess Kate will send their oldest child, Prince George, to Thomas's Battersea School, a private school in Battersea, South London, in September.

Kensington Palace announced the school choice in a statement Froday saying, "Their Royal Highnesses are delighted to have found a school where they are confident George will have a happy and successful start to his education."

Speculation over where George, who will turn 4 in July, would attend had focused on Wetherby School, a school located near Kensington Palace that William and Prince Harry attended before they went to Eton.

William, 34, and Kate, 35, though chose Thomas', a coeducation school with tuition of $22,000 per year. The school has approximately 500 students and is located in a middle-class area of London.

Thomas' Battersea includes children from a variety of backgrounds whom George will one day lead when he is king. Parents of current students were briefed ahead of the announcement Friday.

The school's headmaster, Ben Thomas, also issued a statement welcoming George to Thomas's.

"We are honoured and delighted that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen Thomas's Battersea for Prince George," the statement read. "We greatly look forward to welcoming him and all of our new pupils to the school in September."

William and Kate, also the parents of Princess Charlotte, who will turn 2 in May, have made a very measured and considered approach to George's education. The Cambridges have not been afraid to depart from tradition and chart their own path for what they think will best protect their children.

George has been attending Westacre, a local Montessori school near the family's country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk, a few days per week since January 2016.

William and Kate plan to move their full-time residence to Kensington Palace in the fall as George begins school.

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Friday
Mar242017

Parliament member who aided London terror attack victim shakes hands with armed officer

Jack Taylor/Getty Images(LONDON) — A member of British Parliament hailed as a hero after he aided a victim of the London terror attack was photographed shaking hands with an armed officer as he walked into the Houses of Parliament two days after the attack.

As Tobias Ellwood, who also serves as a foreign office minister, came to work Friday, he walked by a pile of flowers laid in honor of the four people, including police officer Keith Palmer, who died in the Wednesday afternoon terror attack.

When the attack unfolded Wednesday near London's Westminster Bridge, Ellwood, 50, was photographed with a bloody face after he attempted to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Palmer, who was stabbed, the BBC reported.

Photos show Ellwood crouched over the victim as first responders surrounded them.

Palmer, a husband and father who had served for 15 years with the Metropolitan Police Service, did not survive.

Wednesday's attack began when a car struck pedestrians and three police officers on Westminster Bridge.

The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament, and a man armed with a knife attacked an officer who was standing guard.

The suspect, who authorities believe acted alone, was then shot and killed by police, according to the Metropolitan Police Service.

Four people died in the attack, and at least 28 others were injured.

Wednesday's attack, which occurred on the one-year anniversary of attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds, recalled the vehicle attacks last year in Berlin and Nice, France.

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Friday
Mar242017

Two more 'significant arrests' made over London terror attack

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Two more "significant arrests" have been made in connection with the London terrorist attack, London police said Friday.

Speaking to reporters outside Scotland Yard Friday morning, Metropolitan Police acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said that new arrests — which occurred overnight in the West Midlands and North West — brought the total number of people in custody to nine, with one person having been released on bail.

Rowley said police had thus far conducted a total of 15 searches across the country, and that five more were currently underway.

The birth name of British national Khalid Masood, who on Thursday was identified as the attacker, was revealed to be Adrian Russell Ajao, Scotland Yard said Friday.

London police said that two of the people hospitalized from the attack remained in critical condition, one with life threatening injuries. In addition, two police officers injured in the attack remained in the hospital with serious injuries.

The 75-year old man who succumbed to injuries from the attack and died on Thursday was identified on Friday as Leslie Rhodes.

On Thursday night, London Mayor Sadiq Khan led a candlelight vigil in Trafalgar Square for the victims of Wednesday's attack, in which Masood killed four people on Westminster Bridge before being shot dead by police.

"We come together as Londoners tonight to remember those who have lost their lives and all those affected by the horrific attack yesterday."

Khan added that they were also there "to send a clear message: Londoners will never be cowed and by terrorism."


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Friday
Mar242017

Fourth victim dies in London terror attack, police identify suspect as UK native Khalid Masood

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The man police believe was responsible for Wednesday's terrorist attack in London has been identified as Khalid Masood — a U.K. native with a number of criminal convictions.

Four people, including a police officer, were killed, and at least 28 others were injured in Wednesday's attack, which authorities have declared a terrorist incident. The fourth victim was identified by as a 75-year-old man, who died from his injuries Thursday evening after he was pulled from life support.

Masood was fatally shot by police at the scene, according to the Metropolitan Police Service.

What we know about the suspect


Police said Masood, 52, was known to authorities and has a range of convictions, including for assault, grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses. His most recent conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife, according to the Metropolitan Police Service in London.

Massod was born in Kent in southeastern England, and detectives believe he was most recently residing in the West Midlands in west-central England. He was also known by a number of aliases, according to police.

He was not convicted of any terrorism offenses, police noted.

Police said Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence regarding his intent to launch a terrorist attack.

ISIS claims responsibility


Police said they believe the attack was "inspired by international terrorism" and they are looking at the suspect's possible associates.

In a statement published Thursday by its media outlet, Amaq News Agency, ISIS called the attacker "a soldier of the Islamic State" and said he "carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the international coalition."

During a press conference Thursday morning, Metropolitan Police acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley said eight people were arrested in connection with the attack after raids at various locations in England.

Overnight Wednesday, police arrested a 39-year-old woman at an address in East London, a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man at an address in Birmingham and a 26-year-old woman and three men ages 26 to 28 at a separate address in Birmingham. This morning, police arrested a 58-year-old man at a separate address in Birmingham. All eight were arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts, according to the Metropolitan Police Service.

Detectives are searching a number of addresses linked to the investigation, including one in Carmarthenshire, three in Birmingham and one in East London. Authorities have concluded searches at addresses in Brighton and Southeast London, police said.

How the attack unfolded


The attack began around 2:40 p.m. local time Wednesday, when a car struck pedestrians and three police officers on Westminster Bridge. The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament, and a man armed with a knife attacked an officer who was standing guard. The suspect, who authorities believe acted alone, was then shot and killed by police, according to the Metropolitan Police Service.

In an initial news conference Wednesday night, Rowley said the suspect tried to enter Parliament but was stopped "very close to the gate."

Authorities said they initially received different reports Wednesday of a person in the River Thames, a car that collided with pedestrians and a man armed with a knife.

A seriously injured woman was pulled from the Thames and was among those who received medical treatment, an official with the Port of London Authority told ABC News.

Earlier Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May addressed members of Parliament, speaking solemnly about the "act of terrorism that tried to silence our democracy."

"But today we meet as normal — as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do — to deliver a simple message: We are not afraid," she said at the U.K.'s House of Commons. "And our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism."

May discussed what intelligence and security officials had so far gleaned about the attack, noting that the assailant was born in the United Kingdom and had been on the radar of security services.

What we know about the victims


A fourth victim, a 75-year-old man, died Thursday from injuries he sustained in the attack, according to police. The man died after his life support was withdrawn, police said. They did not offer any details on the man's identity.

A 54-year-old American who died in the attack, Kurt Cochran, was celebrating his wedding anniversary, a family member told ABC News. He and his wife, Melissa Cochran, traveled to Europe to celebrate their 25th anniversary and had plans to return home to Utah today, according to a statement by her brother, Clint Payne.

She was injured in the attack and remains in a hospital. President Donald Trump took to Twitter today to express his condolences to the Cochran family.

The officer who died, identified as 48-year-old Keith Palmer, was not armed. Palmer, a husband and father, served for 15 years with the Metropolitan Police Service, according to police.

In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police Service, his family described him as "a wonderful dad and husband," "a friend to everyone who knew him" and "dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous."

"He will be deeply missed. We love him so much," Palmer's family said in the statement. "His friends and family are shocked and devastated by his loss and ask that they are left to grieve alone in peace."

An American tourist, Staci Martin of Wellington, Florida, happen to take a photo with Palmer 48 minutes before he was fatally stabbed.

"I liked his funny hat so I asked him if he would take a picture with me," Martin wrote on Facebook. "He obliged. He was very polite."

Another victim was identified today as 43-year-old Aysha Frade, a staff member of DLD College London.

In a statement, the school confirmed that she died in the attack.

"We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news that one of the victims yesterday was a member of our staff, Aysha Frade. All our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with her family," said Rachel Borland, the principal of DLD College London. "We will be offering every support we can to them as they try to come to terms with their devastating loss."

Frade was a member of the college's administration team and had two daughters. At the time of the attack, she was about to pick up her daughters from their school, which is near Westminster Bridge, the school told ABC News.

Witnesses described a hectic scene


Eyewitnesses described the attack for ABC News. Richard Tice said he saw injured people lying on the pavement on Westminster Bridge. The car involved in the attack appeared to have jumped the curb, knocking people over, he added.

Bradford and Joanne Buck, who are visiting London from Connecticut, just emerged from the city's subway system when they saw the crashed car.

"We saw all of this commotion going on. Looked over, there was a car crashed into the gate, door opened, and there was a man down right next to the car, all curled up," Bradford Buck said in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.

"The next thing I saw was a few police officers with machine guns," he added. "Very, very hectic. This must have just happened when we came up from the Underground."

The Bucks said they were in shock at first but quickly took cover. After a few minutes, they felt safe enough to leave the area.

"Just couldn't believe it was happening," Joanne Buck told GMA. "Just saw the machine guns and knew we had to take cover quickly."

Despite a heavy police presence, the couple said Londoners appeared to be doing well after the attack.

"The people are great. They're going about their business. There's a lot of police officers with machine guns walking around, which we hadn't seen before this happened, but the mood of the people is great," Bradford Buck told GMA.

He added, "We're going to carry on with our vacation. We're not going to let it stop us and hope to finish our sightseeing while we are here in London."

The attack was similar to one in Nice


Wednesday's attack, which occurred on the first anniversary of attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others, was reminiscent of vehicle attacks last year in Berlin and Nice, France.

A spokesperson for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, an American company headquartered in Missouri, confirmed to ABC News that the vehicle used in Wednesday's attack in London was rented from one of its branches in Birmingham, England. The spokesperson refused to provide additional details about the individual who rented the car, when it was rented and how it was paid for.

"We can confirm that the car used in the tragic attack in London yesterday afternoon was one of ours. An employee identified the vehicle after seeing the license plate in an image online. We ran another check to verify and immediately contacted the authorities," the spokesperson in a statement today. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities and will provide any assistance that we can to the investigation."

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Thursday
Mar232017

'Terrorists will not defeat us': London honors terror attack victims with candlelight vigil

TomasSereda/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- "Terrorists will not defeat us," Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the crowd as candles were lit at a vigil in London's Trafalgar Square this evening in honor of the three people killed and dozens injured in yesterday's deadly terrorist attack.

At first three people were killed in the attack -- a police officer, a prep school administrator and an American tourist from Utah -- and they were honored at the vigil with three candles. Several hours after today's vigil, police announced that a fourth person, a 75-year-old man, died in the hospital from his wounds.

At least 28 others were injured in the Wednesday attack that began on the Westminster Bridge, just steps away from the Houses of Parliament.

The suspect, who authorities believe acted alone, was shot and killed by police after he attacked an officer standing guard outside the parliament grounds.

At this evening's vigil, Rudd paid tribute to the slain officer, 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a husband and father who had served for 15 years with the Metropolitan Police Service.

"He was courageous, he was brave. And he was also doing his duty," Rudd told the crowd. "And he is not alone in doing that -- I know that all officers of the [Metropolitan Police] are like that."

Rudd offered her thanks to all officers and emergency responders for their "great sacrifice" and "risks" to keep people safe.

Rudd continued, "We are all connected, and today we showed that by coming together, by going to work, by getting about our normal business, because the terrorists will not defeat us. We will defeat
them. We are strong in our values and proud of our country."

"Those evil and twisted individuals who try to destroy our shared way of life will never succeed and we condemn them," London mayor Sadiq Khan said during a speech at the vigil.

"When Londoners face adversity we always pull together ... Our response to this attack on our city, to this attack on our way of life, to this attack on our shared values, shows the world what it
means to be a Londoner," Khan added.

A moment of silence was held and three candles were lit for the three victims.

As the brief vigil concluded, those gathered were told they were welcomed to stay at the square to contemplate and commemorate. Some people added their own candles and left flowers at the victims'
memorials.

Two people held a sign that read: "love for all hatred for none."

The crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square today less than 1 mile from the where the bloody scene unfolded yesterday at around 2:40 p.m., when a car struck pedestrians and three police officers on
Westminster Bridge.

The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament and a man armed with a knife attacked an officer who was standing guard.

The suspect, who authorities believe acted alone, was then shot and killed by police, according to the Metropolitan Police Service. The suspect was identified as Khalid Masood, a U.K. native with a
number of criminal convictions.

Wednesday's attack, which occurred on the one-year anniversary of attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds, recalled the vehicle attacks last year in Berlin and Nice, France.

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